94 Million American Drivers Unclear on School Bus Roadway Rules

August 21, 2007 at 7:10 am Leave a comment

From a GMAC posting: 

ST. LOUIS, MO. (August 7, 2007) – Today GMAC Insurance announced study results indicating many drivers are unsure of proper roadway safety procedures involving school buses. The study, which polled 5,175 licensed Americans from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, revealed that 93 percent could correctly identify that when approaching a stopped school bus with flashing red lights, drivers must stop. However, nearly half (47 percent) underestimated the recommended distance a car should stop (rule of thumb: at least 20 feet, or one and a half car lengths).

Over the next few weeks, approximately 25 million students will be heading back to school, and an average of half a million school buses will be on the roads, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA). While this is statistically one of the safest modes of transportation, when accidents do occur, they most often involve pedestrian passengers as they are loading and unloading from the school bus. NHTSA research depicts that more than twice as many children are killed in school bus accidents while getting on or off it than while riding it.

“Drivers are notorious for speeding through school zones and passing school buses when they’re not supposed to,” said Gary Kusumi, CEO and president, GMAC Insurance. “The potential consequences of these dangerous behaviors are too great to ignore.”

With so many more young people on and around the roadways this time of year, GMAC Insurance encourages drivers and parents alike to recognize children’s traffic habits. According to Sheena Poe, chief claims officer at GMAC Insurance who oversees thousands of accident reports each year, young children are most likely to be hit because they:

  • Hurry to the bus
  • Act before thinking, as they have limited experience with traffic
  • Assume motorists will wait for them to cross
  • Move out of the bus driver’s line of sight
  • Drop something and run into the path of vehicles to pick it up

“As drivers, it’s up to us to pay attention and exert extra caution as kids head back to school,” said Kusumi. “While we should be teaching kids to do their part for roadway safety, it isn’t all up to them to stay safe.”


Top 10 Tips to Keep the Roadways Safe During Back-to-School Time

To help keep back-to-school roadway safety top of mind and avoid mishaps, GMAC Insurance has developed the following helpful tips for drivers and parents.

For Drivers:

  • Stay stopped. When a school bus stops and displays its red flashing lights, come to a stop until the lights are no longer flashing or until signaled to proceed by the bus driver or police officer.
  • Keep back. The recommended distance drivers following a school bus should stop is at least 20 feet (or one and a half car lengths) from the back of the bus.
  • Don’t pass. It is illegal to pass on the right side of the bus, where children are loading and unloading. In many places, school bus drivers can report a passing vehicle.
  • Be attentive. Out of excitement, children may run out into the street heading home or to the playground without realizing that there are drivers nearby.
  • Go slow. Obey the posted speed limits in school zones where children are often walking or playing and pay attention to crossing guards.

For Parents and Children:

  • See and be seen. Children should stay 10 feet away from the school bus and never go behind it. They should take five giant steps in front of the bus before crossing to ensure the driver can see them.
  • Stay on the sidewalk. Make sure your children stay somewhere safe like the sidewalk or in the driveway and out of the street while waiting for the bus.
  • Look before you leap. Teach your child how to cross the street safely. Practice looking left-right-left and make sure to check for turning vehicles as well.
  • Get an early start. As a general rule, children under 10 should always be supervised when crossing the street. Though children are typically unfit to handle tricky traffic scenarios until this age, you can help prepare your children by practicing safe traffic habits at a younger age.
  • Practice what you preach. Children learn by example, so the best way to teach them safe traffic habits is to follow them yourself.

The study was administered by TNS, a leading market information resource and the world’s largest provider of custom research and analysis. TNS is also a leader in social and political polling and a top supplier of consumer panel, media intelligence and Internet, and TV and radio audience measurement services. The national sample was comprised of 5,175 total licensed respondents, aged 16-60+, balanced to the latest U.S. Census data. For more information about TNS, please visit www.tns-us.com.


Entry filed under: Belmont, Community, Front Porch, Quality of Life, School, Small Town.

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