City of Red Wing

Back to School - Schoolbus Safety

Tuesday, August 27 2013 12:00 AM

The Red Wing Police Department is urging motorists to drive attentively and be ready for school buses, especially for children exiting school buses.  

Last year in Minnesota, there were 553 bus crashes that resulted in seven deaths (none of which were student bus occupants) and 211 injuries (of which 65 were student bus occupants). In Minnesota, school buses make at least 10,000 school bus trips daily. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are the safest mode of transportation for children — children are eight times safer riding in a bus to school than any other vehicles.

Red Wing Police Department reminds motorists to anticipate children, especially in a school bus “danger zone” — the area around a bus where most injuries and deaths occur. Officials also ask parents to discuss and demonstrate pedestrian safety with their children and reinforce safe crossing after exiting a bus.

“School buses are very safe, but once a child exits the bus, we want them to know how important it is to be aware of their surroundings,” says Chief Pohlman. “That same message goes for motorists—if you come up on a school bus, you need to be paying attention and take extreme caution for exiting children.”

In Minnesota, motorists must stop for red flashing lights and when stop arms are extended — both when driving behind a bus and when coming toward a bus on undivided roads.

Red Wing Police Department offers these tips for pedestrians, motorists, and parents to review with their school-age children: 

School children:

  • When getting off a bus, look to be sure no vehicles are passing on the shoulder (side of the road).
  • Before crossing the street, take five “giant steps” out from the front of the bus, and make eye contact with the driver.
  • Wait for the driver to signal that it’s safe to cross.
  • Look left-right-left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped. Keep watching traffic when crossing.

 

Pedestrians:

  • Cross only at intersections or crosswalks and obey all traffic signs and signals
  • Make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you and clearly show intention to cross.
  • Do not enter a crosswalk if a vehicle is too close or moving too fast to stop safely.
  • Continue to look for traffic as you cross; as distracted drivers are not looking for pedestrians.

 

Motorists:

  • Motorists must stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights and/or its stop arm is extended when approaching from the rear and from the opposite direction on undivided roads.
  • Red flashing lights on buses indicates students are either entering or exiting the bus.
  • Motorists are not required to stop for a bus if the bus is on the opposite side of a separated roadway (median, etc.) — but they should remain alert for children.
  • Altering a route or schedule to avoid a bus is one way motorists can help improve safety. In doing so, motorists won’t find themselves behind a bus and as a result, potentially putting children at risk.
  • Watch for school crossing patrols and pedestrians. Reduce speeds in and around school zones.
  • Watch and stop for pedestrians — the law applies to all street corners, for both marked and unmarked crosswalks (all street corners) — every corner is a crosswalk. 

School bus safety education is a component of the state’s Toward Zero Death (TZD) initiative. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.

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