Parents -- and anyone else who cares about a school age youngster -- can help do their part to keep them alive by busproofing the kids.

The time is now: Schools are back in session, and the big yellow buses are back in action, picking up youngsters and dropping them off.

The idea of busproofing isn't mine. It belongs to Richard Schieber, a pediatric critical care specialist at Emory University in Georgia.

As the medical director of the Pediatric Intensive care unit of a children's hospital, he regularly sees kids who have been injured in bus accidents that the child or a parent could have prevented.

Ten to 15 children are killed annually while riding inside school buses, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Ten times that number are killed while waiting at school bus stops. Two thirds of those children are hit by the school bus as it pulls away, according to federal figures.

Busproofing could prevent almost all those deaths plus another 800 non-fatal bus stop accidents which occur yearly, according to Dr. Schieber.

"School children usually think of the school bus as a friendly creature, driven by someone they know, crowded with their friends," Dr. Schieber said.

"Children need to be taught to respect the vehicle when they are standing outside it, and to treat the bus as a very big, unpredictable truck with a driver sitting too far above the ground to see them clearly," he said.

He and the officials of the University of Georgia's traffic safety program offer the following advice to parents.

--Teach children to walk away from the bus quickly after leaving it and to stay on the sidewalk or otherwise off the street until the bus pulls away.

--Remind children that if they drop something under or near the bus, they should leave it until the bus pulls away. Adults should tell their children clearly that they would much rather have a book or jacket ruined than to have their child risk being run over trying to retrieve the object.

--Dress bus-riding children in high visibility clothing, especially on dark winter days. If the children are wearing dark school uniforms, give them a light colored scarf or bright lunchbox.

--Don't let children be late for the bus. A hurried, worried child is likely to be less attentive to traffic.

--Children under age eight should be walked to and from the bus by an adult or much older child.

Take a few minutes and busproof your child this year. It could save him or her from death or serious injury.

Recommended for you

comments powered by Disqus