Bus and road safety-Back to school

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‘Stop, look, listen, think,’ are habits many of us can heed when crossing the road and NSW Road Safety are promoting the safety of doing so at bus stops this month, with a message for drivers too.

They are not only reminded to heed the 40km/h speed limit in school areas, but to look out for buses that transport kids around, as they get back into school life this summer.

Deputy Secretary for Safety, Environment and Regulation, and Transport for NSW Tara McCarthy cautioned drivers to be alert.

“Children are some of our most vulnerable pedestrians and we know that they can be unpredictable around roads,” Ms McCarthy told the Blue Mountains Phoenix. “We need all motorists to be attentive and watch out for children particularly near bus stops and school crossings.”

Drivers are specifically alerted to slow down when buses flash their lights from the rear. “Please slow down to 40km/h when bus lights flash because this means a bus may be picking up or dropping off children, who may be around the road,” Ms McCarthy said.

NSW Road Safety data indicated that some child pedestrians up to the age of 16 have had it tough on the roads. It said that one child pedestrian was killed and 36 were injured - 22 seriously injured - on NSW roads, when emerging from behind a bus between 2016 to 2020.

During that same period, 83 per cent of pedestrians injured when emerging from behind a bus during school travel times were aged 16 years or younger. The Transport for NSW crash database does not record whether or not a bus had flashing lights at the time of a crash.

But NSW Road Safety give rock solid tips for parents taking their kids out and picking them up from bus stops, to ensure a seamless safer way of getting around.

“If you’re responsible for a child who catches the bus to or from school, remind them to always wait until the bus has gone before choosing a safe place to cross the road,” their Facebook post said. “Always drop them off or meet them on the same side of the road as the bus stop.”

They also advise parents to continually supervise their kids up to the age of 10, and if parents can’t be there, it’s a good idea to talk to your kids about what to do if:

1 you are delayed and cannot meet them as usual (find a safe place to wait, for instance)
2 they catch the wrong bus
3 they get off the bus at the wrong stop.

One interesting comment on the NSW Road Safety post on what parents can do came from Brian Blunt, who said kids should be taught to look both ways before crossing a road, and ‘don’t just let them rely on you to do it … this is a big failing in road safety education’. But Australia has a history of getting the road safety message out there when in the decade of disco and ABBA a campaign got started to help kids remember what to do.

Fictional mascot Hector the Cat burst onto the scene in TV advertisements developed by the Australian Department of Transport with a catchy tune that many to do this day still remember word for word. Hector was a big blue and yellow cat who sang a song about how to cross the road safely.

“Look to the right, look to the left, look to the right again …’ the song went as Hector sang and waltzed across the road with kids in tow, joining in on the jingle. And to this day the big cat has remained the road safety mascot for the Northern Territory, with updated advice for kids riding bikes and wearing safety helmets.

So, if you and your loved ones and neighbours have one life, and not nine that Hector may be able to spare, remember that erring on the side of caution may just be the purrrrrrfect roadway habit.

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