FRAZIER: Tips to prevent school bus accidents
Published 4:00 am Saturday, August 20, 2022
Lisa Castle went to elementary school with me and was a member of my Girl Scout troop.
She and I also lived relatively close to one another therefore we rode the same school bus to and from Jett Elementary School.
Back then, my friend’s parents didn’t drive their kids to school; we rode the big yellow dog.
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The only time I remember my mom driving me to school was when I got held up in the bathroom trying to fix my hair and didn’t make it to our bus stop in time.
However, that was only if she couldn’t get me to another part of the neighborhood where the bus had not made it yet.
During my grammar school years, there was also no limit as to how many children were allowed to ride the bus. Or at least it didn’t seem so.
The bus that picked up and dropped us kids off in the Marion Park neighborhood was loaded — loaded to the point there were times some children, including me, who were relegated to standing in the aisle.
And kids think they have it rough today.
It was tough trying to balance schoolbooks, lunch box and whatever else you needed for school, all while standing up as the bus was moving down the road.
If you were lucky and didn’t have homework that required bringing home any books, you could at least hold on to one of the seats.
So back to Lisa Castle.
One afternoon, our bus was en route taking us home after a warm school day — back then we didn’t have air-conditioning in the classrooms, much less the bus.
We were just about to turn off of Cain Ridge Road onto Columbia Avenue when there was a commotion in the back of the bus.
That day, I was standing near the front and couldn’t see what was going on.
Well, what was going on, I later learned, was Lisa Castle had fallen out the back door of the bus and was laying on the road.
Fortunately, the car that was behind the bus was not following too closely, preventing an even more dire situation.
And thankfully, Lisa Castle didn’t sustain any debilitating injuries. After recovering from a mild head injury, she returned to school.
That afternoon has always remained in my memory. I don’t know if there were any changes to the school bus rules after the accident. I am sure there were, but as a young child, you don’t always correlate changes to particular incidents.
Now that school has started and buses are back on the road, and because I knew firsthand someone who experienced a school bus accident, I thought I would share some safety tips for drivers that were listed on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.
- When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.
- When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be thinking of getting there safely.
- Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in neighborhood.
- Watch for children playing and congregating near bus stops.
- Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
- Learn and obey the school bus laws in your state, as well as the “flashing signal light system” that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions:
- Yellow flashing lights indicate 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 the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
In the last month, two accidents involving vehicles and school buses have been reported locally. Let’s all take care on the road, especially during school bus pick-up and drop-off times.