Nearly everywhere they turn, children encounter a barrage of advertising on everything from energy drinks to jeans.
But upcoming legislation that proposes to embellish Florida school buses with these kinds of images creates the potential for distractions that could lead to school bus accidents in Fort Lauderdale and elsewhere in the state.
Think bright yellow school buses with ads for the latest in teen fashion gear or hottest new television shows.
It’s already a reality in 15 other states, and now it’s poised to happen here, according to a recent report by The Palm Beach Post.
It’s called HB 119, and the newspaper reports the House Education Committee approved the measure, hoping to boost school district coffers across the state by an estimated $100 million.
Proponents of the bill argue it could help the struggling education system by helping to foot the bill for student transportation costs.
Democratic Rep. Irv Slosberg of Boca Raton was quoted as saying that ads on school buses could be a creative alternative to the possibility of laying off teachers, making more students walk to school or increasing fees and taxes.
The problem our Boca Raton school bus accident attorneys have is that distractions are a huge factor in crashes across the country. In fact, distracted driving accounted for nearly 5,500 deaths in 2009 and another estimated 450,000 injuries on U.S. roadways.
No doubt, the ads will be eye-catching.
But motorists’ eyes should be glued to the road. Particularly in school zones and around school buses.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an average of 140 children die every year in crashes while on their way to and from school.
Of the young pedestrians killed in school transportation crashes, two-thirds were struck by the bus and about 27 percent by the other vehicle. Nearly half of those victims were between the ages of 5 and 7.
Some lawmakers at a recent committee hearing debated whether school buses were an appropriate venue for such advertisements, especially given what they are already exposed to at such a young age.
Our Fort Lauderdale school bus accident attorneys believe that aspect of the issue is best left to parents to hammer out. However the safety of our students should be everyone’s concern.
Often, child fatalities in school bus accidents are caused when other vehicles are involved. Advertisements pose particular distraction risks to other drivers and student pedestrians.
While Florida lawmakers continue to debate HB 119, we encourage you to talk with your young children about the following school bus safety tips, provided by the NHTSA:
–Arrive at the bus stop five minutes prior to the bus’ scheduled
–When the bus gets close, take at least three big steps (6 feet) back from the curb, and form a line away from the street.
–Wait for the bus to stop, the door to open and the driver to give the Ok before you try to get on the bus.
–If you have to cross the street in front of a bus, make sure you are walking on the sidewalk or on the side of the road and make sure you are at least five big steps in front of the bus driver so they can see you and you can see them.
–Make sure you use handrails to avoid falling. When you’re getting off the bus, watch that clothing that has drawstrings or book bags with straps don’t get caught in the doors or rails.
–Never walk behind a bus.
–Tell the bus driver if you drop something and need to pick it up. Don’t try to do it yourself, because there’s a chance the driver might not see you.