This week, several bus stop accidents have resulted in the deaths of five children and injuries of at least seven others. The children were hit by drivers near their local bus stops, raising concerns of pedestrian and bus stop safety across the country.
In nearly all of the incidents, the children were crossing the street to board or exit the school bus when they were hit by a vehicle.
The string of tragic incidents began on Tuesday, when 9-year-old Alivia Stahl and her 6-year-old twin brothers Xzavier and Mason Ingle were struck and killed by a pickup truck. Another student, 11-year-old Maverik Lowe, suffered multiple broken bones and was airlifted to a hospital in Fort Wayne. The four children were crossing a two-lane road to get to the school bus when they were struck by a Toyota Tacoma truck, which had not stopped for the bus despite an extended stop-sign and emergency flashing lights.
The driver of the truck, a 24-year-old female, was arrested on three counts of felony reckless homicide and a misdemeanor for passing a school bus with its arm extended. She claims she had not seen the school bus until it was too late.
The next day, a Mississippi boy, Dalen Thomas, died after an eerily similar incident. The 9-year-old was crossing the street to board the bus, which was reportedly properly stopped, when he was struck and killed by a truck. The 22-year-old driver has been charged with aggravated assault.
Even more recently, a 7-year-old boy from the Franklin Township area of Pennsylvania was found dead after he was run over by a slow-moving vehicle on Thursday while waiting for the bus. The same day in Tampa, Florida, five children and two adults were rushed to a hospital after they were struck by a car at a bus stop.
Laws for bus safety are fairly uniform across the states. All 50 states have laws that require all vehicles to stop upon meeting, from either direction, a school bus that is stopped for loading or unloading children and displays flashing lights and the stop signal arm.
However, these latest incidents of bus stop accidents have sparked concerns among parents and law enforcement. Despite the school buses being properly stopped in several of the incidences, this did not deter drivers from disobeying the law, whether intentionally or not.
Safe Kids Worldwide and the National Safety Council offers tips for pedestrians and drivers when it comes to bus stop safety. ABC10 recommends sharing these tips with your young kids and fellow parents to help decrease the number of accidents like those that occurred over the last few days.
- Walk with your young kids to the bus stop and wait with them until it arrives. Make sure drivers can see the kids at your bus stop.
- Teach kids to stand at least three giant steps back from the curb as the bus approaches and board the bus one at a time.
- Teach kids to wait for the school bus to come to a complete stop before getting off and to never walk behind the bus.
- If your child needs to cross the street when exiting the bus, he or she should take five giant steps in front of the bus, make eye contact with the bus driver and cross when the driver indicates it’s safe. Teach kids to look left, right and left again before crossing the street.
- Instruct younger kids to use handrails when boarding or exiting the bus. Be careful of straps or drawstrings that could get caught in the door. If your child drops something, they should tell the bus driver and make sure the bus driver is able to see them before they pick it up.
- Drivers must always stop! The law in all 50 states requires that drivers stop when a school bus is stopped with the stop-sign arm extended and the emergency lights on. Drivers in either direction must stop.
- Drivers should follow the speed limit and slow down in school zones and near bus stops. Remember to stay alert and look for kids who may be trying to get to or from the school bus.
- Slow down and stop if you’re driving near a school bus that is flashing yellow or red lights. This means the bus is either preparing to stop (yellow) or already stopped (red), and children are getting on or off.
- When waiting for the bus, stay away from traffic and avoid roughhousing or other behavior that can lead to carelessness.
- Do not stray into the street, alleys or private property.
- Take several giant steps away from the street or road as the bus approaches, then wait until the bus has stopped and the door opens before approaching the bus.
- Use the handrail when boarding and exiting.
- If you must cross in front of the bus, first walk at least 10 feet ahead until you can see the driver. Make sure the driver can see you and wait for a signal from the driver before crossing. Stay away from the rear wheels of the bus, always. Look left, right, then left again.
- If your vision is blocked, move to an area where you can see other drivers and they can see you. Walk across the road and keep an eye out for sudden traffic changes.
- Do not cross the center line of the road until the driver signals it is safe.