Statement issued Tuesday:
About 756,000 children are expected to ride Hoosier school buses this school year. As students return to school from summer vacation, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) are reminding drivers to take extra precautions to avoid incidents involving school children.
“Whenever possible, parents or guardians should wait for the school bus with young children,” says IDHS Chief of Staff Mike Garvey. “Many children board school buses in the pre-dawn hours and it can be difficult for drivers to see them in the dark. Adequate supervision at bus stops is important to help keep children safe.” Garvey is an EMS professional with 33 years of experience. IDHS provides training and credentialing to all EMS personnel throughout the state, and certifies training institutions and all emergency medical transports.
An average of 26 children in the U.S. are killed every year while getting on or off a school bus, or while waiting at the bus stop. Last year in Indiana, three children were killed in school transportation related incidents.
“By following all safety rules and obeying traffic laws, Hoosier motorists can help ensure all Indiana children have a safe school year,” says INDOT Commissioner Michael B. Cline.
Important safety tips for drivers
- Back out carefully: Watch for children walking to the bus stop when backing out of a driveway.
- Slow down: Watch for children walking in the street and playing or congregating near bus stops. Some children may be waiting at bus stops in the early morning hours. This will make them more difficult to see, and extra caution should be taken.
- Be alert: Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
- Obey the laws: Yellow flashing lights on a bus mean motorists should slow down and prepare to stop. Red flashing lights mean motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus starts moving again. Unless there is a median, oncoming traffic must also stop.
- Get to the bus stop at least five minutes early.
- When the bus approaches, have children stand at least three giant steps away from the curb.
- If a bus stop is located on a busy road or intersection, an adult should be present to supervise children waiting for the bus.
- Make sure children understand to always stay seated while the bus is in motion, and to follow any directions from the bus driver.
- If a child drops something near the bus, instruct them to tell the bus driver, rather than trying to pick it up themselves.
- If children are walking to school, make sure they understand to walk on sidewalks, if available, and use crosswalks whenever possible.
- Remind them to always look both ways before crossing the street.
- If children have to cross the street in front of a bus, teach them to walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road at least five giant steps ahead of the bus before they cross.
For other safety information, visit www.in.gov/dhs/getprepared.