Lynchburg, VA - That rumbling sound you hear coming down your street? It's area school buses, revving up their engines for another year.
However, every year around the country, thousands of children are injured: Both on the bus, and even at the bus stop.
Mike Harmon, a bus driver and trainer for Lynchburg City Schools, entering his 23rd school year. Keeping bus riders safe is his number one priority. He notes that "We have a safety team that actually goes around to all the elementary schools, and we teach bus safety."
According to the non-profit Pupil Transportation Safety Institute, children are more likely to be injured at the bus stop, rather than on the bus itself. One of the biggest issues drivers face are its "Danger Zones", or blind spots where the bus driver can't see the child. Newer safety features on modern buses are trying to eliminate these spots. One important safety feature is the long, yellow arm on the front bumper, called the 'Crossing Guard'. When the bus is stopped, and the doors are open, the arm swings out, keeping children 4 feet away from the front bumper. That way, children entering the bus have to walk around, keeping a safe distance away from the front of the bus, and also ensuring they're always in the line of sight of the driver.
Once on the bus, kids need to stay in their seat. The ride can be a safe one, but it can be a little bumpy. Appomattox Christian Academy administrator Deb Thomas teaches kids a method called "Back-to-back, Bottom-to-bottom". She says "When you sit properly in a school bus, you really reduce the risk of getting hurt, in case of an accident or other situation."
One of the most important tips Harmon gives regarding safety at the bus stop isn't directed at kids; It's directed at adults, to avoid the in-car distractions that can cause an accident near a bus. "Our mission is to get our kids to and from school safely, and the way we do that, is by paying attention to our kids getting on and off the school bus."