No one of us wants to imagine anything negative happening to our children and grandchildren. We do our best to protect them 24 hours a day. We trust in our schools, our teachers, and our bus drivers. In the wake of the recent incidents in Connecticut, we know tragedies can occur at any time, as unexpected as they may seem. We begin not to trust for a while… or for a longer period of time. What we do know is that we have to continue living our lives, and setting good examples for our children by learning again to have faith in their caretakers when we are not around.
Heroic measures occurred on the parts of teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary. And, before that, some of the children were entrusted in the care of a bus driver who drove them to school, like any other day. A bus driver faces many distractions and must take extra care when transporting our children from one place to another. Their goal is to make it safely to the destination without any incidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 8,000 children are injured annually in school bus related accidents, and that a good number of them result not only while in the vehicle itself while moving, but from exiting and boarding the vehicle. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission outlined guidelines for playgrounds and included hazards involving drawstrings that are a part of children’s clothing. Drawstrings are the cause of many accidents on the playground, and for kids getting on and off the school bus when the drawstring becomes caught on something on the bus or on the handle of the door, and goes unnoticed by the driver until it’s too late.
A quick website search for school bus accidents can pull up a multitude of incidents, many of them involving school buses hit by other vehicles, or drivers failing to yield when the school bus is stopped. School bus drivers are distracted, just like many other drivers on the road, and they have the added responsibility of transporting a number of children at any one time—children who are young, who haven’t learned how to behave or are just being kids.
You know you can’t always drive your kids to school. So, what measures can you take to ensure their safety when it’s not at your hands? For one thing, it is good to know the credentials and record of the bus driver. Get to know that person by engaging in conversation when your child is boarding the bus. If you notice anything suspicious, alert authorities. Is the bus driver’s driving record clean? Has he had accidents before? Next, you’ll want to instruct your child about good behavior while on the bus. This means talking to them about the importance of wearing seat belts, not walking up and down the aisle unless boarding or exiting the bus, and not throwing anything at the bus driver or other occupants.
Sandy Hook Elementary School implemented protocol that alerted parents of any emergencies through texting. In the past, this had included warnings about road conditions for drivers, school delays and other important notices for the parents. Does your school have a similar policy in place in the event of alerting parents if there is a school bus related accident?
We know we can’t be with our children and grandchildren every second of the day, but we can be aware of what others do when caring for our children. If your child has been injured as a result of a negligent bus driver, enlisting the support of a firm who specializes in these types of accidents is key. Keep your kids safe on the road by knowing what to look for when they are not in your care.