FRIDAY, Aug. 1, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Almost 140 people die every year in accidents related to school transportation in the United States.
But there are several simple ways to prevent school bus-related catastrophes, Dawne Gardner, injury prevention coordinator at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center's Comprehensive Children's Injury Center, said in a medical center news release.
"As families begin to prepare for children returning to school, it's important for parents and children to go over school bus safety tips together," Gardner said. "This will help ensure a safe, enjoyable start to the school year for everyone."
It's especially important, she said, to take care when kids are getting on or off a school bus. "A blind spot extends about 10 feet in front of the bus, obstructing the driver's view," she says. "Often times, children are not aware of this blind spot and might mistakenly believe that if they can see the bus, the bus driver can see them."
Here are some of Gardner's tips on how to avoid accidents:
- To keep them out of the blind spot, encourage kids to stay 10 feet away from the front or back of the school bus.
- Get children to the school bus stop at least 5 minutes early so they won't put themselves at risk by running to catch the bus.
- Teach kids to avoid horseplay while waiting for the bus. This will prevent children and their belongings from ending up in the roadway.
- Tell kids to take three big steps backwards from the curb when a bus arrives. Don't start approaching the bus until it has stopped and its doors are open.
Also, children should take care getting on the bus. They should let the driver know if they drop something and make sure the driver can see them if they try to pick it up. They should use handrails and be careful to not catch drawstrings, backpack straps, scarves and loose clothing on rails, doors or seats.
In addition, kids should remain seated and face forward, avoid yelling and horseplay in the bus, and never throw anything.
When it's time to leave the bus, kids should wait for a complete stop before getting up from their seats. They should use handrails and take five big steps in front of the bus while making eye contact with the driver. The child should cross only when the driver says it's safe and look left, right and left again prior to walking across the street.
For more about school bus safety, try the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.