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News Releases

For Immediate Release

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Experts Offer Safety Tips for Walkers, Riders and Busers as New School Year Gets Under Way

As summer vacation comes to an end, trauma experts at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC are warning families and drivers to be cautious about children walking or riding to and from school.

Among the most devastating traumatic injuries seen at Children’s Hospital this time of year involve young pedestrians walking to and from school or getting off buses who are hit by other vehicles, said Barbara A. Gaines, MD, director of the Benedum Pediatric Trauma Program at Children’s Hospital.

“With the new school year getting under way, students aren’t always accustomed to the necessary safety precautions, and drivers need to be vigilant to watch for kids climbing off buses or walking on streets and sidewalks,” Dr. Gaines said. “A child can walk onto a street from between parked cars or get off a bus and cross in front of the vehicle and a tragedy can happen in the blink of an eye.”

Pedestrian injury is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 5 – 14, according to Safe Kids Worldwide, of which Children’s Hospital is a member. Every year, more than 630 children ages 14 and under nationwide die from injuries related to pedestrian crashes. National survey results reveal nearly two-thirds of drivers speed in school zones, suggesting an urgent need to increase awareness about child pedestrian safety.

Parents, administrators, teachers and other adults need to teach students the appropriate safety measures to ensure a safe trip to and from school.

Pedestrian safety tips:

For school-age children, teach them to:
•    Stop at the curb or edge of the road before crossing, and never run into the street.
•    Look and listen for traffic to the left, then to the right and then to the left again.
•    Cross at the street corner and walk in crosswalks. Obey the traffic signals and signs. Keep looking while crossing the street.
•    Always watch out for cars. The drivers may not see pedestrians or yield the right of way.
•    Never go between parked cars to cross the street.
For adolescents, tell them to:
•    Walk or run facing traffic and stay to the left if there are no sidewalks.
•    Always be aware of their surroundings.
•    Continue crossing the street if they are halfway when the light changes. Be quick, but do not run.
•    Wear clothing that can be seen easily after dark. Apply reflective tape or material to the clothing for added visibility. 

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, school buses are one of the safest forms of transportation. But there are still dangers, particularly before and after riding the bus. The 10-foot area around a school bus should be thought of as the “Danger Zone” because it is difficult for a bus driver to see in this area. The most dangerous sections in the Danger Zone are immediately in front of the bus and from the front of the rear wheels to the back of the bus.

School bus safety tips:

Waiting for the bus
•    Get to the bus stop at least five minutes early.
•    Stay away from the curb.
•    Pay attention to the bus as it approaches the bus stop.
•    Let the bus come to a complete stop before boarding.
•    Don’t push or crowd friends getting on or off the bus.
Riding the bus
•    Find a seat, sit down and face forward.
•    Listen to the bus driver and follow his or her directions.
•    Keep the aisles clear.
•    Don’t stick anything out the windows — especially your head or arm.
•    Don’t throw anything in the bus or out of a bus window.
•    Don’t scream or shout.
Exiting the bus
•    Be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps don’t get caught in the doors or handrails.
•    Always cross the street in front of the bus while it is stopped. Never cross behind it.
•    Keep away from the bus if you drop something. Never try to pick it up without telling the bus driver that you are going to get it.
•    Do not go into the Danger Zone.
•    Walk at least three giant steps away from the side of the bus.


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

Last Update
August 29, 2008
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Last Update
August 29, 2008