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For Immediate Release

Trauma Experts at Children’s Hospital Have Important Injury Prevention Lessons for Adults as Students Head Back to School

Whether walking, driving or riding in cars, or getting on and off school buses, getting to and from school safely is the greatest concern as students return to the classroom, according to trauma experts at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

Last year, Children’s admitted 84 patients for injuries sustained in traffic-related pedestrian accidents, up from 46 in 2005, according to Barbara A. Gaines, MD, director of the Benedum Pediatric Trauma Program at Children’s Hospital.

“The most devastating ‘back-to-school’ injuries we treat every year are those children who were hit by vehicles while walking to school or those injured getting on or off a bus. Children, especially younger school-age kids, are not always aware of their surroundings and sometimes will dart out into the road or in front of a bus, assuming drivers will stop for them,” Dr. Gaines said. “These traffic-related injuries can be prevented if adults teach children appropriate street safety and supervise them as they walk to school or get on the bus.”

The Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences estimates that every year, more than 800 school-aged children nationwide are killed as passengers in motor vehicles, or driving, walking or riding bicycles, during normal school hours. Children ages 5–9 are at the greatest risk of being injured or killed in pedestrian accidents, and pedestrian injury is the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for 5- to 14-year olds, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.

School buses are one of the safest forms of transportation, and children are much more likely to be injured getting on or off the bus than while riding the bus. Each year, more than 25 children are killed in pedestrian accidents involving school buses. Three times as many children are killed in school bus accidents while getting on or off the bus than while riding it.

“The 10-foot area around a school bus should be thought of as a danger zone because it is difficult for a bus driver to see this area,” Dr. Gaines said. “The most dangerous sections in the danger zone are right in front of the bus and from the front of the rear wheels to the back of the bus. If a child drops something under or near a bus, he or she should be taught never to pick it up and instead tell the bus driver or another adult.”

Other school bus safety tips include:

  • While waiting for the bus, find a safe place and stay away from the curb.
  • When getting on or off the bus, make sure the bus safety lights are flashing.
  • Be alert to traffic. Look to the right and left before getting on.
  • When the driver says it is safe to cross the street, cross in front of the bus.
  • Let the bus come to a complete stop before boarding.
  • Don’t push or crowd friends getting on or off the bus.

Pedestrian and school bus dangers aren’t the only risks students face as they return to school.

Safe Kids Worldwide, of which Children’s is a member, estimates that each year, 2.2 million children ages 14 and younger are injured in school-related accidents.

Playgrounds are associated with the majority of injuries among elementary school students. Accidents involving gym classes and organized sports account for the majority of injuries among high school students.

Last year, 81 patients were admitted to Children’s for treatment of playground-related injuries, up from 37 the previous year.

“Playground injuries can be prevented if the equipment is maintained, there is sufficient supervision and kids are taught how to use the equipment properly,” Dr. Gaines said. “Parents can help prevent serious sports injuries by supervising their children at play, by learning proper coaching techniques, and by making sure kids always wear proper safety equipment.”

Learn more about school safety and injury prevention from Children’s Hospital.



Marc Lukasiak, 412-692-7919 or 412-692-5016,
Melanie Finnigan, 412-692-5502 or 412-692-5016,

Last Update
April 21, 2008
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Last Update
April 21, 2008