Millions of school children are transported daily to and from schools. They need to be reminded about safety – both on the street and on the school bus itself. CLAIRE RENCKEN buses in some tips.
On South African roads, we have one of the highest chances in the world of having an accident. This fact is backed up by both local and international statistics, which, flawed as they are, agree that travelling South African roads is a gamble.
Horrific collisions reach the headlines of various local news publications on a frequent basis – from trucks overturning on top of family cars, to informal taxis colliding with school buses and killing children. Transport-related accidents are the third leading cause of unnatural death in South Africa.
You face these odds every time you travel to work, walk to the shops, or simply take a stroll around the block – so does your child if he or she makes use of school bus transport.
Primary school children, in particular, are at high risk of being hit by a car when crossing the street because they:
• Cannot judge the speed or distance of moving vehicles;
• Are easily distracted and can focus on only one thing at a time;
• Cannot determine the direction from which a sound is coming;
• Have a visual field that is one-third narrower than that of an adult;
• Do not understand how much time and distance is necessary for a vehicle to stop; and
• Are often hidden by parked cars and bushes.
Parents are encouraged to teach their youngsters these rules for getting on and off the school bus:
• Dress appropriately – make sure all drawstrings, ties and straps on all clothing, backpacks and other items, are shortened or removed, to lessen the likelihood of them getting caught in bus doors, railings or aisles;
• Get to the bus stop at least five minutes early;
• When waiting for the bus, stay away from traffic and avoid roughhousing or other behaviour that can lead to carelessness. Do not stray onto streets, alleys or private property;
• Line up away from the road as the school bus approaches. Wait until the bus has come to a complete standstill and the door opens before stepping onto the roadway;
• Wait for the signal from the driver before approaching the bus;
• Enter the bus in single file;
• Use the hand-rail when stepping onto the bus;
• When on the bus, find a seat and sit down. Loud talking or other noise can distract the bus driver. Passengers should never put their heads, arms or hands out of the window.
• Always listen to the driver’s instructions. Be courteous to the driver and other students;
• Listen carefully when the driver or teacher shows you where the emergency exits are;
• Keep aisles clear – books or bags are tripping hazards and can block the way in an emergency;
• Before you reach your stop, get ready to leave by getting your books and belongings together;
• At your stop, wait for the bus to stop completely before getting up from your seat. Then, walk to the front door and exit, using the hand-rail;
• Never crawl under a bus;
• If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk at least ten feet ahead of the bus along the side of the road, until you can turn around and see the driver. Make sure that the driver can see you. Wait for a signal from the driver before beginning to cross. When the driver signals, walk across the road, keeping an eye out for sudden traffic changes;
• Do not cross the centre-line of the road until the driver has signalled that it is safe for you to begin walking;
• Stay away from the bus’s rear wheels at all times; and
• Never run back to the bus, even if you dropped or forgot something.
It is also suggested that parents review with their children the correct way to cross the street. Youngsters should always stop at the curb or the edge of the road and look right, then left, and then right again, before crossing. They should continue looking in this manner until they are safely across.
If a student’s vision is blocked by a parked car, or another obstacle, they should move out to where drivers can see them and they can see other vehicles, then stop, and look right-left-right again.
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