School bus safety is an issue that has been discussed by worried parents, teachers, school administrators, and bus drivers alike for years, but after a rash of tragedies in recent weeks people are finally starting to pay attention.
In a span of just three days, five children, three of whom were siblings, were killed in the United States when they were hit by cars near their bus stop. In addition to the five children who lost their lives, seven other children were injured as a result of cars who failed to stop for school buses despite the buses having their warning lights flashing and their stop arm extended.
On the day before Halloween 9-year-old Alivia Stahl and her twin 6-year-old brothers, Mason and Xzavier Ingle were struck and killed crossing the road to board their school bus by a pick up truck driven by a 24-year-old who stated that she saw the flashing lights, but didn't realize until it was too late that they were from a school bus. That crash also sent another child to hospital in critical condition. The very next day a 9-year-old in Mississippi was killed after he was struck while crossing the road to get to his bus, and a kindergartner in Florida was injured after they were hit by a vehicle.
On November 1st a 7-year-old boy in Pennsylvania was struck and killed by a vehicle while he waited for his bus, and five children and two adults were also injured in Tampa as they were hit by a car while waiting at their bus stop.
These tragic accidents prove that drivers need to be more cautious when driving and how imperative it is to stop when a school bus has their lights flashing and arm extended. While it may seem like common sense, drivers have been complaining for years about motorists who have no regard for safety and simply refuse to stop for school buses. Many people often use the excuse that they weren't sure if they needed to stop for a school bus, especially in situations where there may be more than one lane or a divided road.
NBC 25 News recently released a new graphic that will help drivers recognize when they need to be stopping for school buses, and it definitely has people sharing.
The Maryland Motor Vehicle Commission, which published the graphic as well, also reminded drivers of key rules to ensure they're obeying the laws when it comes to stopping for school buses.
Buses will first flash lights yellow as a warning to drivers they are about to stop. Once the lights flash red and the stop sign is extended, vehicles must stop. They can not begin to pass the bus until the driver has turned the lights off and retracted the stop arm. If you are travelling in the same direction as the bus you must stop at all times when the bus's stop lights are illuminated and the stop arm extended. It is illegal to pass a bus on the right side because that's where the children enter and exit. They also reminded drivers that in many cases bus drivers can report offenders, which can result in a fine and possible citation.
If you're a parent and you feel like your child's bus stop is in too dangerous a location, speak to the school or transportation department about having the location changed. After all these recent tragedies we need to be doing everything we can to ensure our children are getting to school safely, including stopping at all times for school buses.