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MassDOT, MAPFRE Insurance Reminder: Keep an eye out for School Buses and School Zones

For many students, this fall 2021 is the first all in-person semester since spring 2020. This will bring more traffic, school buses, and pedestrians as parents and children adjust to the new school year. There are many safety regulations and laws in place to help protect both children, and you, during these busy times.

According to the American School Bus Council, school buses are the safest way for children to get to school. They are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in avoiding crashes and preventing injury. Teaching children to follow safety rules on and off the bus is just as important as informing drivers about the laws regarding school buses. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an average of 19 school-age occupants of school transportation vehicles (6) and pedestrians (13) die in school transportation-related traffic crashes each year. About 43% of these victims fall between the ages of 5 and 7.

The greatest risk is not riding the bus, but approaching or leaving the bus. Parent should teach their children to stand at least three giant steps (6 feet) away from the curb, and line up away from the street when waiting for their bus. Before moving towards the bus, teach your children to wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it’s okay before stepping onto the bus. If they have to cross the street in front of the bus, have them walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see them, and they can see the bus driver. Children should also know to never walk behind the bus, and walk at least three giant steps away from the side of the bus.

Other drivers on the road need to especially pay attention to traffic laws when approaching a school bus or a school zone. The most important thing for drivers to do is to always keep your eyes on the road and keep a safe, slow speed in these areas. Be sure to learn the “flashing signal light system” that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions:

    • Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
    • Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped, and that children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.

To further ensure your children’s safety when traveling, the NHTSA launches their annual campaign “Child Passenger Safety Week” this year from September 19-25, with the 25th being “National Seat Check Saturday.” Car crashes are a leading cause of death among children. On average, two children under 13 were killed and an estimated 374 were injured every day in 2019 while riding in cars, SUVs, pickups, and vans. 38% of children who died in 2019 while riding in passenger vehicles were unrestrained, compared to 33% in 2018.

You must be sure that your child is in the correct car seat. To do this, NHTSA offers a resource to find the right seat for your child at NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat. Even if you feel your child is in the right car seat, it is best to double check it against any possible recalls. To do this, register your child’s car seat at NHTSA.gov/recalls. Registering a car seat is a guaranteed way of being notified of a recall.

Even the safest of drivers can find themselves in need of assistance, which is why the MassDOT Highway Assistance Program sponsored by MAPFRE Insurance is here to help with fixing minor mechanical problems, flat tires, fuel shortages, and emergency situations. The Highway Assistance Program drivers monitor some of the state’s busiest highways and turnpikes around Metro Boston, Worcester, Springfield and Cape Cod (seasonal). The Highway Assistance Patrol covers 13 major state roadways and interstates, the Emergency Service Patrol covers the Mass Pike (I-90) from New York to Boston and the Incident Response Operators cover the Metropolitan Highway System and tunnels. The Highway Assistance Patrol is in service Monday–Friday between the hours of 6 a.m.–10 a.m. and 3 p.m.–7 p.m. During holidays, there are extended routes in heavy traffic areas. On I-90, and in Boston’s tunnel system, assistance is provided 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.

Written By

Keith Jensen

Senior Vice President, Northeast Business Development

MAPFRE Insurance

Written By:

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