Carroll County Times Opinion

Watch for buses on roads [Editorial]

If the sight of big yellow buses isn't enough, rest assured area police agencies will have additional personnel out on the roads in the morning and afternoon as students return to school on Monday.

Laws regarding driving safety as it relates to encountering school buses are well-established, yet each year police issue some citations for careless and thoughtless drivers who disregard the flashing red lights and children at the bus stops as they hurry on their way to work.


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, since 2003 there have been 1,353 people killed in school-transportation-related crashes.

Of those, the NHTSA notes, "Occupants of school transportation vehicles accounted for 8 percent of the fatalities, and non-occupants (pedestrians, bicyclists, etc.) accounted for 21 percent of the fatalities. Most (71 percent) of the people who lost their lives in these crashes were occupants of other vehicles involved.


The fact that almost three-fourths of the fatalities were people in the other vehicles involved, and not the school buses, is a testament to the safety of these vehicles. It also should serve as a somber warning to motorists about the need to exercise extreme caution when driving near or around school buses.

The number of pedestrian and bicycle fatalities is also a big concern. According to NHTSA, over that period there were 42 school-age pedestrians age 5 to 7 years old who were killed. A similar number of 8- to 13-year-olds were killed. Sixty-five percent of those fatalities were the result of school buses striking the children.

As parents get ready to send their children off to school, it is important that they review safety measures with their kids concerning the proper way to get on and get off the bus.

Children who are walking to school should stick to the sidewalks or, at least, ensure that they are off the roadway. And bicyclists need to take extra care watching out for both regular traffic and buses.

Parents who are planning on foregoing the bus and taking the kids to school might want to rethink that strategy. The NHTSA notes that school buses are among the safest vehicles on the roads. Beyond that, using school buses means 17.3 million fewer cars on the roads around schools nationally. And additional traffic congestion always leads to a greater probability of accidents.

Regardless of our plans, though, our plans for the new school year school include allowing additional time to get to work, paying additional attention for youngsters along the roadways and ensuring that we are following all the laws to help reduce the chance of an accident.