Since 2012, there has been a 31.4 percent increase in the amount of fatal pedestrian accidents statewide, which unfortunately includes children crossing streets within Tennessee school zones. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 123 children have died in school transportation-related accidents since 2001. Approximately 69 percent of these incidents involved children who were hit by school buses and 26 percent involved other vehicles. NHTSA data goes on to show 40 percent of those deaths were children who were between five and seven-years-old.
According to the NHTSA, more than 26 million children in the U.S. ride school buses each year, more than 600,000 of whom ride the buses in Tennessee. For parents, these numbers can seem horrifying, but there are steps you can take to keep your children from becoming part of these statistics.
WHAT CAN I DO TO KEEP MY CHILDREN SAFE IN SCHOOL ZONES?
As school has likely started for your young one, there are steps parents can take to make sure your child avoids a pedestrian accident in a school zone. Supervise them, make sure they wait far enough away from the road and discourage horse play near the sidewalk. If you think your child’s bus stop is in an unsafe area, talk to the district’s transportation director or the school’s office about making a change.
Parents must also educate children on safe practices for getting on and off the bus, including the following:
- Ask the bus driver for help if they drop something around the bus. If a child bends to pick something up, the bus driver can no longer see them.
- Teach your child to always remain in direct eyesight of the bus driver
- Stay 10 steps away from the curb while the bus is pulling up to the stop and walk 10 steps away after exiting
- Follow the bus driver’s instructions on how to cross the street and, if they are ever unsure, encourage them to ask
- Stay away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop and the driver gives the “OK” to enter
- Look before crossing any street to make sure cars are still stopped
Just because it’s the law to come to a complete stop while buses are stopped to load or unload its passengers does not necessarily mean that other drivers are complying with this law. Last year, State Troopers issued 759 speeding tickets and two citations for passing school buses while they were stopped. If your child has suffered an injury in a Tennessee school zone, contact an attorney immediately to assess your rights in the situation.
The Law Office of Stanley A. Davis is a personal injury law firm in Nashville that helps those injured in pedestrian accidents.
“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’” Matthew 18:2-3