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Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 30, 2021
Contact: John Lyon, Director of Strategic Communications (845) 638-5645
                 Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, D.O., M.P.H., CPE, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512

BACK TO SCHOOL BUS SAFETY

NEW CITY, NY, - Students are returning to in-person instruction, and many rely on school buses to get them to and from school safely. More children and vehicles on the roads can increase the potential for accidents. With the start of the new school year, Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert remind residents to share a few simple tips with your children to help them stay safe when traveling to and from school.

"Students are 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a school bus instead of traveling by car, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, most school bus-related fatalities of school-age children occur outside of the school bus when children are getting on and getting off the bus. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, there are additional and unique challenges to keep students safe. Help your children be careful by following a few safety tips," said Dr. Ruppert.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED) recommend that motorists and children follow these safety tips:

  • Safety starts at the bus stop: Your child should arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. Show your child where to wait for the bus: at least three giant steps (six feet) away from the curb. Remind your child that the bus stop is not a place to run or play.
  • Get on and off safely: When the school bus arrives, your child should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop, the door opens, and the driver says it's okay before approaching the bus door. Your child should use the handrails to avoid falling.
  • Use caution around the bus: Your child should never walk or cross the street behind a school bus. If your child must cross the road to get to the bus, tell him/her to walk on a sidewalk or along the side of the street to a place at least five giant steps (10 feet) in front of the bus before crossing. Your child should also make eye contact with the bus driver before crossing to make sure the driver can see him/her. If your child drops something near the school bus, like a ball or book, the safest thing is for your child to tell the bus driver right away. Your child should not try to pick up the item because the driver might not be able to see him/her.
  • Practice safe driving in School Zones: Always stop for school busses that are loading or unloading children, never pass other vehicles while driving in a school zone, obey the posted school zone speed, and follow any signals given by crossing guards.
  • COVID-19 safety: The New York State Department of Health requires that masks covering the nose and mouth be worn in schools and on public transportation including school buses effective as of August 27, 2021.

Let this school year be a safe one for everyone. By exercising a little extra care and caution, drivers and pedestrians can co-exist safely in school zones. Bus Safety is a team effort of bus drivers, students, the motoring public, and parents. Follow these practices to make school bus transportation safer.

"Please exercise caution whenever you see a stopped school bus, drivers have a responsibility to protect our children. Never forget that one split second that comes from rushing to your destination can kill a child and nothing can ever be done to undo that. With 86,400 seconds in the day, waiting through a few of them in order to keep our kids safe is just common sense," said County Executive Day.

For more information, visit the NHTSA website at https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/school-bus-safety and http://www.nysed.gov/common/nysed/files/programs/reopening-schools/nys-p12-school-reopening-guidance.pdf