According to the Transportation Research Council, each day more than 23 million children in the U.S. ride a school bus. Of that number, about 40 die and another 8,500 receive injuries in school bus related accidents.
Researchers say the majority of those accidents are preventable.
Although many different things can cause these accidents, parental supervision is one of the factors now at the forefront of concern in Meridian.
Wednesday, a five-year-old boy waiting for a school bus was hit by a slow moving car when trying to cross Highway 80 from Cedar Bend Apartments.
"There wasn't one parent, not one parent out here with these children!" said Shirley Gardner, the driver of the car.
According to officials with the state Department of Education, parents are primarily responsible for their children until they board the school bus. Although unfortunate, officials say unsupervised children along roadways is not a problem isolated to this area or particular circumstance."
"Children will be children! They've been darting out in front of people since only horses were used. You've just got to be careful when you're driving, especially during the holidays," said Detective Dean Harper with the Meridian Police Department.
Shirley Gardner says this is something she has learned from experience.
"It literally shook me up and I just thank God that I didn't hurt the child!" Gardner said.
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Safety Tips For Children:
- When you get off, take five giant steps away from the bus, out of the danger zone.
- Cross in front of the bus, and make sure you maintain eye contact with the driver.
- Never go back for anything and never bend down near or under the bus.
Safety Tips For Parents:
- Assure your children you won't get mad if they don't go back for a jacket they've left on the bus, or school work they've dropped under a wheel.
- Encourage them to sit quietly in their seat and follow the driver's instructions on bus safety.
Safety Tips For Motorists:
- Stop when the bus's warning lights are flashing, or the stop arm comes out.
- Share the road with the yellow bus.
- School buses are one of the safest forms of transportation in the nation - nearly 2,000 times safer than the family car.
- The reality of school bus safety is that more children are hurt outside a bus than inside one.
- The child who bends over to retrieve a dropped school paper, or who walks too close to the bus while crossing the street, needs to be aware that every yellow school bus is surrounded by a danger zone.
Source: www.nhtsa.dot.gov (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Web site) contributed to this report.