Making an Impact

August 2022 - Volume 10 - Issue 10

School Bus Safety


The school bus is the safest vehicle on the road—your child is much safer taking a bus to and from school than traveling by car. Although four to six school-age children die each year on school transportation vehicles, that’s less than one percent of all traffic fatalities nationwide. NHTSA believes school buses should be as safe as possible. That’s why our safety standards for school buses are above and beyond those for regular buses.

Bus Safety

Students are about 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a bus instead of traveling by car. That’s because school buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road; they’re designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries; and in every state, stop-arm laws protect children from other motorists.

  • Different by Design: School buses are designed so that they’re highly visible and include safety features such as flashing red lights, cross-view mirrors and stop-sign arms. They also include protective seating, high crush standards and rollover protection features.
  • Protected by the Law: Laws protect students who are getting off and on a school bus by making it illegal for drivers to pass a school bus while dropping off or picking up passengers, regardless of the direction of approach.


Seat belts have been required on passenger cars since 1968; and 49 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws requiring the use of seat belts in passenger cars and light trucks. There is no question that seat belts play an important role in keeping passengers safe in these vehicles. But school buses are different by design, including a different kind of safety restraint system that works extremely well.

Large school buses are heavier and distribute crash forces differently than passenger cars and light trucks do. Because of these differences, bus passengers experience much less crash force than those in passenger cars, light trucks and vans.

NHTSA decided the best way to provide crash protection to passengers of large school buses is through a concept called “compartmentalization.” This requires that the interior of large buses protect children without them needing to buckle up. Through compartmentalization, children are protected from crashes by strong, closely-spaced seats that have energy-absorbing seat backs.

Small school buses (with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less) must be equipped with lap and/or lap/shoulder belts at all designated seating positions. Since the sizes and weights of small school buses are closer to those of passenger cars and trucks, seat belts in those vehicles are necessary to provide occupant protection.

Bus Stop Safety

The greatest risk to your child is not riding a bus, but approaching or leaving one. Before your child goes back to school or starts school for the first time, it’s important for you and your child to know traffic safety rules. Teach your child to follow these practices to make school bus transportation safer.

Safety Starts at the Bus Stop

Your child should arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. Visit the bus stop and show your child where to wait for the bus: at least three giant steps (six feet) away from the curb. Remind your child that the bus stop is not a place to run or play.

Get On and Off Safely

When the school bus arrives, your child should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop, the door opens, and the driver says it’s okay before approaching the bus door. Your child should use the handrails to avoid falling.

Use Caution Around the Bus

Your child should never walk behind a school bus. If your child must cross the street in front of the bus, tell him/her to walk on a sidewalk or along the side of the street to a place at least five giant steps (10 feet) in front of the bus before crossing. Your child should also make eye contact with the bus driver before crossing to make sure the driver can see him/her. If your child drops something near the school bus, like a ball or book, the safest thing is for your child to tell the bus driver right away. Your child should not try to pick up the item, because the driver might not be able to see him/her.


Make school bus transportation safer for everyone by following these practices:

  • When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.
  • When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be thinking of getting there safely.
  • Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in neighborhood.
  • Watch for children playing and congregating near bus stops.
  • Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
  • Learn and obey the school bus laws in your state, as well as the "flashing signal light system" that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions:
  • Yellow flashing lights indicate 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 the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
  • School Bus Driver In-Service Curriculum – Regular training is important for school bus drivers to stay up-to-date on the latest industry standards and to help them maintain and improve the safety of children in and around the school bus. NHTSA is now offering an improved School Bus Driver In-Service Curriculum.

Visit School Bus Safety | Bus Stops, Drivers | NHTSA for more facts

Study: Left-turn Traffic Signals, Better Lighting, Shorter Crossings Would Enhance Older Pedestrians’ Safety

Information provided by The Skanner News

This diagram provided by OSU indicates a permitted left turn.

Steve Lundeberg, OSU

Published: 19 July 2022

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Research by the Oregon State University College of Engineering and Portland State University suggests a trio of roadway treatments would enable people age 65 and older to travel on foot more safely.

The study is important because older pedestrians are among the most likely to be killed in traffic accidents, according to the National Safety Council. In the United States in 2020 there were 709 pedestrian fatalities in the 65-74 age group – 20% of total road-user deaths in that age bracket.

The project used data from Oregon collisions but is likely applicable in other areas, and it provides a framework for jurisdictions to develop their own safety recommendations, said David Hurwitz of the OSU College of Engineering.

Findings of the study led by Chris Monsere of Portland State were published in the Transportation Research Record.

Hurwitz and Monsere, whose collaborative background includes a recent update of the Safety Investigation Manual for the Oregon Department of Transportation, combed four years of Oregon crash data for locations where older pedestrians were over-represented.

Older pedestrian accidents more like to be fatal

“Motor vehicle crashes involving older pedestrians are more likely to result in fatality than those involving other age groups,” said Hurwitz, a transportation engineering researcher at OSU. “As a group older pedestrians are more frail, walk more slowly and are at increased risk of falling while walking. And some of those people may also have an inhibited ability to make safe road crossing decisions due to vision or hearing impairments and cognitive decline.”

After conducting a review of best practices from national and local sources, the researchers mapped those practices to the Oregon danger spots for pedestrians 65 and over and came up with the following recommendations:

  • Improve visibility and illumination.
  • Increase the use of left-turn traffic signals.
  • Shorten crossing distances.

Increase visibility

“Twenty percent of the crashes we looked at happened in the dark at places with limited street lighting,” Hurwitz said. “Eight percent occurred at dawn and 5% at dusk, times of day when ambient lighting is low. Better lighting at intersections and near crossing locations, rapid flashing beacons and other devices like ‘Pedestrian Crossing’ warning signs with flashing LEDs would likely help a lot.”

Increase, improve left turns

So would, he added, converting “permissive” left turns for drivers at certain locations into “protected” ones. Executing a permissive left turn at an intersection means watching for a break in the oncoming traffic, which has the right of way. In a protected left turn, the motorist is signaled by a green arrow that it’s safe to turn.

“In a permissive left turn, drivers can become so focused on looking for a gap in the traffic that they don’t see pedestrians,” Hurwitz said. “Increasing the use of protected left turns in locations where a permitted turn may be difficult can improve the safety of older drivers as well as pedestrians because it reduces one of the more complex driving tasks.”

He also notes that some cities including Portland and New York have been using “slow turn wedges” and “hardened center lines” as a way to enhance pedestrian safety by forcing left-turning vehicles to slow down and take a proper route.

A wedge, outlined by pylons in the intersection, makes drivers turn more sharply and thus not as fast. A hardened center line, constructed of bollards, accomplishes the same thing by preventing drivers from crossing the center line before they are supposed to.

The moves are countermeasures against the increased danger pedestrians of any age face from left-turning vehicles, which nationwide account for roughly 25% of all incidents involving a vehicle striking someone on foot.

Shorten, segment crosswalks

Among pedestrians 65 and older, the proportion of serious-injury crashes happening when the person is in the roadway is greater than for pedestrians ages 25 to 64, which suggests shortening crossing distances increases their safety by reducing their exposure time.

That can be done through pedestrian islands in the median, curb extensions, raised crosswalks and road diets – i.e., reducing the number of car travel lanes in an area.

“From the perspective of universal design, a benefit is that treatments aimed at making older pedestrians safer enhance the safety of all pedestrians,” Hurwitz said. “Our main objective was identifying low-cost treatments that could be widely implemented, but looking at ways to address speeding may also help improve older pedestrian safety and should be a focus of future work.”

Jason Anderson and Sirisha Kothuri of Portland State also took part in the research, which was funded by the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.

Another Tragic Increase in U.S. Roadway Deaths Feels Like Groundhog Day, but Can Be Reversed

Statement by Jonathan Adkins, Executive Director,

Governors Highway Safety Association

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated today that 9,560 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first quarter of 2022 – up 7% from the year before and the highest number of deaths between January and March in 20 years. First quarter roadway fatalities have jumped 42% since 2011, and the death rate measured by vehicle miles traveled has risen 30% during that time. Tragically, the U.S. is on its way to a third straight year of surging roadway deaths.


Another new report of an increase in lives lost may feel a bit like Groundhog Day, but we must not become desensitized to the tragedy of roadway deaths. Instead, our country must focus on immediately implementing the National Roadway Safety Strategy that was released by the U. S. Department of Transportation earlier this year in partnership with leading safety organizations including GHSA.


Today’s awful news underscores the urgency of implementing this strategy and the need for strong and consistent leadership at NHTSA. Unfortunately, last week NHTSA Administrator Steve Cliff announced his departure. GHSA and other leading national safety groups have urged President Biden to quickly nominate a qualified individual that can guide NHTSA through this turbulent time in traffic safety. The National Roadway Safety Strategy demands that all levels of government be bold and aggressive in making our roadways safer and a strong NHTSA can and should lead that charge.


NHTSA Chief Counsel Ann Carlson, who will assume Cliff’s duties in an acting capacity, will keynote the opening session at the GHSA 2022 Annual Meeting, September 17-21, in Louisville, Kentucky. The partnership between NHTSA and states is essential to driving down roadway crashes, deaths and injuries. GHSA is pleased that Carlson will also be meeting with state safety leaders while in Louisville to discuss how we can strengthen our partnership to reverse this trend and save lives. That can and must be done.

Car Seat Check Up Events

We know that car seat safety is very important, as it should be, for many new parents. We want you to know are here to help.
We are currently making appointments for car seat education sessions, along with other local partners. Please contact us for more information at 503-899-2220 or via email at

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