In the past week, there's been a tragic series of unrelated accidents at bus stops across the nation. Time change over the weekend means daylight is dramatically different when people are traveling back and forth, creating an additional risk. Let's look at the last several accidents to see what went wrong and talk about how to protect East Texas children.

In Case You Missed It

On October 30, six days ago in Fulton County, Indiana, three children died after a truck hit them at the bus stop. Two twin 6-year-old boys and their 9-year-old sister were approaching their school bus and the driver had put out the "stop" sign for opposing traffic. A truck driving in the opposite direction hit all three. They died at the scene. Another boy was struck and injured in an unrelated incident that same day.

In Central Pennsylvania a boy was killed at his bus stop by a by a hit and run. Around 6:30 a.m. in Louiseville Kentucky an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old were also hit by a car that didn't stop. They were crossing the road to get to their stop when a car hit them.

Then in Tampa Florida a speeding car slammed into five children and two adults. Two of the children were seriously injured. Witnesses say the car was driving fast when it struck the victims.

School Bus Statistics

School buses are important for so many families when it comes to getting kids to school on time. American School and University says 26 million students ride school buses every day in the U.S. On any given weekday, there are 480,000 school buses on the road.

Many authorities say school buses are the safest form of transportation when it comes to getting students back and forth. Bus drivers are required to take specialized training both to operate the bus and to manage student behavior while in transit. The bus is a good choice, and none of the accidents mentioned in this article were caused by the bus driver.

A Stanford Children's Health article says 40 percent of school bus injuries happen because of other cars. Most of them are minor. Around 24 percent of them happen when kids are getting on and off the bus.

And now for the most sobering statistics. About seven students are killed every year in crashes related to the school bus. An average of 19 children die getting on and off the bus. Often they're hit in the "danger zone," the 10 foot radius around the bus.

Most of the ones who are killed are between five and seven years old. More die in the afternoon than in the morning.

Keeping East Texas Kids Safe

We all play a part in making sure this type of tragedy doesn't happen in our area. Parents can help protect their children in these ways:

  • Walk them to the bus stop and wait with them until they're safely on the bus.
  • Teach children to be always vigilant when crossing the street, checking both directions for cars. Get them in the habit of waiting for eye contact from the bus driver or other cars to know they've been spotted.
  • Caution children to look both ways before they step off the bus and into the roadway. Ask your bus driver to help remind them until it becomes second nature.
  • Know where children stand while they wait. If they are close to the roadway, get them to move back. If at all possible encourage them to wait in a well-lit area. Make sure they never sit on the curb.
  • Some accidents happen when a child is entering or exiting the bus and they suddenly reverse directions. Teach kids not to dart back after something they forgot.
  • Teach children to never cross behind the bus.

It's not just parents who have a responsibility when it comes to keeping kids safe. If you drive, part of your job is to watch for pedestrians. If you pass a school bus with its lights flashing and sign extended, it's a moving violation. Stay focused on your surroundings, especially in those early morning and afternoon hours when children are most likely to be at bus stops.