By the mere fact of it being such an enormous school transport network, accidents occur every year. Around 1,000 students a year suffer school transport-related injuries, whether sustained on board, caused by the bus itself or by vehicles driving in the vicinity. Most accidents happen through students being run over by the bus, caused by drivers being distracted or not giving way.
Concern about maintaining a safe transport system is very much the order of the day in the USA and everybody must comply with the law and respect school buses and motor coaches: from the bus drivers themselves, through to the students, the drivers of other vehicles and even pedestrians.
The walk home, the most dangerous time
The walk home from being dropped off by the bus after school is what puts students at most risk, and is when most accidents happen, some of them fatal. For this reason there are a series of basic safety rules for school transport in the USA (gathered together on the website of the National Association of School Psychologists):
On the way to the bus stop:
- Be alert; get to the bus stop at least five minutes early.
- Always obey all traffic lights and signals.
- Plan to walk with classmates whenever possible, facing oncoming traffic.
- Always cross roads using pedestrian crossings and intersections.
- Look both ways before crossing the road.
At the bus stop:
- Keep a safe distance from the curb.
- Do not push or elbow people when getting on and off the bus and always use the steps and handrails.
- Always obey the bus driver, and wait for a signal before crossing.
- Always cross at least three meters in front of the school bus.
- Never, ever crawl under the bus.
On the bus:
- Take your seat calmly and quickly, remain seated and do not get up from the seat while the bus is moving.
- Keep your feet on the ground and never put your hands, arms, head or any other object out of the bus window.
- Speak quietly, be polite to the bus driver and try not to distract the driver with unruly behavior.
Logically, when transporting 54 schoolchildren per bus, it is very difficult for all of them to maintain their composure, speak softly, not distract the driver and be as quiet as possible, but taking the victims into account (both the injured and fatalities) in relation to the enormity of the school transport system, we see a highly developed network.
Something we may find curious is that in the USA teachers, by law, cannot take charge of groups of students as large as those that the school bus drivers are required to supervise.
Further information: The keys to getting to school safely according to SafeKids.