According to a recent survey, nine children were killed while loading or unloading buses across the country during the 2011-2012 school year, including one in Mississippi. Though the year is not yet through, the preliminary data indicates that five boys and four girls were fatally wounded in accidents that took place as they were about to get on or just after getting off a school bus.
The survey, known as the National School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey, has been conducted every since 1970. The nine children killed thus far this year represent an increase over the eight who tragically died last year. The data reveals that three of the students were heading home while five were going to school at the time of the accidents. Another student was on a school field trip at the time of the collision. Three students died while waiting for their morning bus, two more died as they were exiting the bus, two were killed while walking to their bus and another two died walking home from their bus stop.
Two of the most recent incidents occurred in Georgia where a 17-year-old girl was killed by a passing vehicle as she walked in front of her bus and an 11-year-old boy died after being hit by a car while chasing after his bus. The other states that reported a fatality among students include Mississippi, Iowa, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington and Wyoming. All but one student fell into the 10-13 age range.
The biggest danger to children came in the form of passing vehicles which were responsible for the deaths of six of the nine children. Like the incident in Georgia, these drivers often are breaking the law as they pass a stopped school bus, a dangerous attempt to save a few seconds of driving time that ended up costing a young child her life. The other three children were run over by the bus itself. It appears that living in less populated areas of the country also increase your odds of being involved in such an accident as six of the fatalities occurred in rural areas.
Given the danger faced by children in Mississippi, it's important that parents take this opportunity to remind their children of proper safety while around a school bus. Consumer Reports came up with the following tips for concerned parents:
• As a bus is drawing near, stand at least 6 feet away from the curb and line up away from the street.
• Never try to board a bus until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it's okay.
• If you absolutely have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk at least 10 feet ahead of the bus before you do so. Be sure that the bus driver can see you, and that you can see the bus driver.
• Never walk behind the bus.
• If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver immediately. Never try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.
Source: "Preliminary Results Released for Annual School Bus Loading/Unloading Survey," by Ryan Gray, published at STNOnline.com.
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