Editorial – School resumes; watch for kiddos

Published 6:46 pm Tuesday, September 6, 2022

With Isle of Wight and Surry schools reconvening after summer break, it is important for motorists to be on the lookout for students of all ages.

Drivers are reminded to decrease speed in school zones, to check for children when backing up and to obey the school bus stop arm law, which makes it illegal to pass — regardless of direction — a stopped school bus with red flashing lights and its stop sign extended. Motorists are advised to wait until the red flashing lights are off, the stop arm is withdrawn and the bus begins to move before resuming driving.

Each year approximately 450,000 public school buses transport 23.5 million students to and from school and related activities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Heralded as one of the safest modes of transportation, buses are 70 times more likely to get children to school safely than cars. Buses are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries.

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However, the latest statistics available from the Virginia Department of Education show that there were 138 collisions in the 2019-20 school year, resulting in 26 injuries to bus occupants. Readers might also be surprised to learn that the greatest risk to a child isn’t riding a bus but approaching or leaving one. According to the NHTSA, in the past 10 years, 264 school-age children were killed in school transportation-related crashes — 203 of whom were walking, waiting for the bus, biking or in another vehicle.

When waiting for the bus, students and parents should arrive at least five minutes before the scheduled pickup time and:

  • Stay five steps away from the curb.
  • Always wait until the bus comes to a complete stop and the bus driver gives the OK to board.
  • Face forward after finding a seat on the bus.
  • Exit the bus when it stops and look left-right-left for cars before crossing the street.