By Faith Peppers
University of Georgia
To be certain children have a safe trip to school each day, try these safety tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
* Make sure children get to the stop on time, wait far away from the road and avoid rough play.
* Teach your child to ask the driver for help if he drops something near the bus. If a child stoops to pick up something, the driver can't see him. Then he could be hit by the bus. A book bag or backpack helps keep loose items together.
* Make sure clothing has no loose drawstrings and backpack straps are short, so they don't get caught in the handrail or bus door.
* If you think a bus stop is in a dangerous place, talk with your school office or transportation director about changing the location.
Teach your child to get on and off the bus safely:
1. When getting on, stay away from the danger zone near the bus and wait for the driver's signal. Board the bus single file.
2. When getting off, look before stepping off the bus to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder. Move away from the bus.
3. Before crossing the street, take five "giant steps" out from the front of the bus, or until the child can see the driver's face. Wait for the driver to signal that it's safe to cross.
4. Look left-right-left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped. Continue to watch for traffic when crossing.
Other motorists pose the greatest threat to children traveling to school. Most children are injured at bus stops by cars illegally passing the bus.
Drivers coming to a school bus from either direction must stop when the bus displays flashing red warning lights and extends the stop-signal arm. These signals show that children are getting on or off the school bus.
Don't pass until the flashing red lights and signals are turned off.
Drivers traveling in the same direction as the bus are always required to stop. In some states, but not in Georgia, drivers moving in the opposite direction on a divided roadway are also required to stop.
Never pass on the right side of the bus, where children enter or exit. This is illegal and can have tragic results.
For more information, call the NHTSA Auto Safety Hotline (1-888-DASH-2-DOT) or visit the NHTSA Web site (www.nhtsa.dot.gov).
(Faith Peppers is the director of public affairs with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)