Start of school brings focus on child safety

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- As the end of summer approaches and a new school year begins, the 56th Fighter Wing Safety Office asks students and parents to stop and reflect on safety concerns associated with going back to school.

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, school bus related crashes kill more than 100 students per year and injure thousands nationwide.

Although the numbers have decreased in recent years, one common thread remains: the majority of deaths and injuries sustained by students didn't occur in a crash, but as the pupils were entering and exiting the bus.

Parents and students should keep the following safety tips in mind:

-- Arrive early at the bus stop.

-- Avoid roughhousing and stay away from traffic.

-- Line up away from the road as the bus approaches.

-- Wait until the bus stops completely and the door opens before climbing into the bus.

-- If a person drops something near the bus, notify the driver before picking it up.

-- When on the bus, find a seat and sit down. Never put head, arms or hands out of the window.

-- Keep aisles clear of tripping hazards.

-- Wait for the bus to stop completely before getting up from the seat.

-- If a person has to cross the street in front of the bus, they should walk 10 feet ahead of the bus and wait for a signal from the driver before beginning to cross.

-- Do not cross the center line of the road until the driver has signaled that it is safe to begin walking.

-- Stay away from the bus' rear wheels at all times.

There are also hazards for children who walk to and from school. Pedestrian injuries are the second leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 5 to 14. For children who walk instead of riding a bus, the safety office offers the following tips:

-- Plan the route with your child before the school year begins and keep the route as simple as possible.

-- Children should always stop at the edge of the road and look left, right and then left again before crossing.

-- If the student's vision is blocked by a parked car or other obstacle, they should move out to where drivers can see them and they can see other vehicles.

-- Children should keep away from vacant lots, fields and other locations that have few people around.

-- Make sure children do not walk alone, especially if they're young as child predators look for children who are alone. It is more difficult for predators to deal with a group of children.

Not only should parents remind children about the inherent risks associated with going to school or returning home safely, but should also make an effort to be aware of small children trying to make it to their destination.