While walking is one of the healthiest ways to send your kids to school, but there are many positive aspects to riding the bus that make them a growing choice among parents for their children’s daily commute to school. The Mississippi Department of Transportation (M.D.O.T.) encourages all motorists, especially parents, to take part in National School Bus Safety Week by practicing school bus safety precautions with their children during the week of October 20th.
Today’s school buses are built with safety in mind. They’re tougher, cleaner and more diligently maintained than ever before. In addition, school bus drivers are required to receive first-aid and CPR training and undergo regular drug and alcohol testing to provide a safe ride for your child. Not to mention, school bus traffic laws are strictly enforced. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (N.H.T.S.A.), students are about 50 times more likely to arrive at school safely if they ride the bus than if they ride with a student driver or a parent.
No matter if you ride the school bus each morning or use another mode of transportation, safety is the most important thing. M.D.O.T. offers the following tips to all motorists as children and families head to school each morning:
•Parents and Children:
-If your children ride the school bus, walk with them to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive and wait with them until they get on the school bus.
-When the bus approaches, stand at least six feet away and wait until the bus stops, the door opens and the driver says that it’s okay before stepping onto the bus.
-If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk at least ten feet in front of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you and you can see the bus driver.
-Use the handrails to avoid falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps don’t get caught in the handrails or doors.
-Never walk behind the bus. If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Don’t try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.
-Learn and obey the school bus laws in your state. Learn the "flashing signal light system" that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions:
-Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
-Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped, and that children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
-Be mindful of pedestrians crossing at intersections or crosswalks and slowdown in school zones and residential areas, especially for children playing and gathering near bus stops.
-Never overtake a school bus, unless you are traveling on a highway or interstate with multiple lanes.
-Don’t be a distracted driver; you endanger your own life and the lives of others. Your call, text or email can wait.
No matter how you get your morning started each day, make MDOTtraffic.com part of your morning routine to receive up-to-date traffic information and road condition alerts. Additional information can be found by calling 511 for on-demand, route-specific information or by following M.D.O.T. on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MississippiDOT. The primary concern of M.D.O.T. is the safety of the traveling public. M.D.O.T. advises motorists to pull off the road to a safe location if you need to check the MDOTtraffic app while driving.