School bus drivers who pick up students should be sure no vehicles are moving before motioning for the children to enter, a school safety expert said after four kids were killed in two separate accidents this week.
The children were killed as they tried to get on buses in Indiana and Mississippi. The driver in Indiana specifically told investigators that he saw the pickup truck driven by Alyssa Shepherd in the distance before Tuesday’s accident, but believed she would stop, according to WRTV.
“You don’t have kids go into the road until all traffic is stopped,” Safety Rules! founder Ted Finlayson-Schueler told the Daily News on Thursday.
According to the Commercial Driver’s License manuals in both Indiana and Mississippi, bus drivers are supposed to make a final check “to see that all traffic has stopped before completely opening the door and signaling students to approach.”
However, he emphasized that students should also be well informed on when it is safe to enter their bus.
“To be perfectly honest with you, the problem is the drivers and the students don’t have a specific plan to deal with motorists who don’t stop for the lights,” said Finlayson-Schueler, who is based in Syracuse.
He said students should be trained and educated on when to enter the bus.
Shepherd, the Indiana driver, was charged with three counts of reckless homicide in connection with the deaths of 6-year-old twin brothers Xzavier and Mason Ingle and their older sister Alivia Stahl, who was 9. Local residents had complained the bus stop was not safe, and the location has since been changed.
The bus driver has not been charged.
The following day 9-year-old Dalen Thomas was fatally struck by a truck in Mississippi as he tried to get on his bus.
And there were two more tragic incidents on Thursday. A 7-year-old boy in Pennsylvania was fatally struck by a hit-and-run driver while waiting for his bus, and five people, including three children, were struck by a car at a school bus stop in Florida. One child was critically injured.
Finlayson-Schueler said there are about 5-10 fatal incidents during the school year related to students trying to get on buses, so “to have four happen in a week is pretty statistically unusual.”
He said the National Association for Pupil Transportation is aiming to lower fatalities to zero by 2025. The organization’s conference and trade show took place this week in Missouri.