Every day some 630,000 students use a school bus to get to school and back home again, according to the Observatorio del Transporte de Viajeros por Carreteras (Road Passenger Transport Observatory), of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport. It is one of the safest forms of transport in our country in terms of registered accident figures, with a low death rate per km traveled, according to the Department of Traffic's (DGT) figures.
During the inspection campaign that the DGT carries out, officers will usually check that the vehicle has all the authorizations and documents needed to provide their service, as well as all the technical conditions and vehicle safety elements according to applicable legislation. They will also check that the driver fulfills certain special requirements such as having the correct driver's license and observing driving and rest periods.
The main causes of accidents involving school transport are inappropriate speed and driver distractions, for example, using a cell phone or other devices. Nevertheless, 90% of accidents caused during school transportation happen when the child is getting on or off the vehicle or in the moments just before or afterwards.
These incidents are usually down to someone being distracted. It may be because the child is not aware of the danger unfolding at the point of getting on or off the bus; it could also be because the driver of the bus is distracted or not paying enough attention to their maneuvers; or perhaps because parents have not ensured that their children are aware of the risks, or they are in a hurry and have parked their vehicle too far away from the school bus stop.
To avoid these types of situations we recommend you read the study guide entitled ‘Manual de Inspecciones de Seguridad Vial en Entornos Escolares’, by Fundación MAPFRE . It is very important for parents to drop children off at the established bus stops, to arrive on time and not wait for the child at a distance, on the other side of the road or in places which are difficult or awkward for the child to get to.
Here is some road safety information which parents can convey to their children, related to safety at school and school transport:
- Never stop behind the bus. The driver has zero visibility at this point and a sudden maneuver that the child does not notice could end in tragedy.
- We should always wait for the driver to tell us when to get on or off the bus, as well as when to cross the road. It is a good idea to do so several meters in front of the vehicle, exercising caution and not forgetting to check that there is no vehicle approaching on either side of the road.
- Once on the bus, the child should stay seated with their seat belt fastened, if the bus is equipped with seat belts.
- You should never run, either to catch the bus or when getting off. This means that the child's parents should arrive on time at the bus stop, in order to avoid the child being in a rush.
- Alwaysobey the bus driver and the on-board monitor.
When it comes to parking their vehicle, parents should look for a suitable site to drop off and pick up their children. It is a good idea to look for parking near a zebra crossing or, preferably on the same side as the parked school bus.
If children are going to the school bus stop in order to catch some other means of transport or will be walking to school, whether they are accompanied or going on their own, it is a good idea to remind them of the recommendations for a safe school walk. This is how to significantly improve their safety.