“Okay, kids, what is the giant-step rule?”
By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | January 14, 2015
Parents tell children about pedestrian and school bus safety but there is still a good chance they have forgotten what was said.
• My older brother was hit by a pickup truck crossing the street to our bus stop – and lived.
• A friend and I were hit by a car crossing the street to school in the rain; Shelia held the umbrella so we would not get wet and we did not see the car – we were both hospitalized and lived.
• Randy Mahew, a six-year-old friend of our family, ran across the road in front of his house to catch the bus after kissing his mother good-bye and was struck by a car – Randy died.
• A classmate’s dress tail was caught in the door of a bus and she was dragged several feet – she eventually recovered from her injuries.
• My brother-in-law stepped off the curb in Lima, Peru and was struck by a delivery truck – Lucho died.
• As I left a store and headed to the car once, six-year-old Katie, impulsive as she was, broke free of my hand and darted into the path of an oncoming car. Luckily, the driver was alert and able to prevent an accident.
These accidents are all too common but each one could have been prevented. As a child, the only training we had about pedestrian safety was our parents saying ‘don’t go into the street’ and you know how meaningful that warning was.
The problem with children is the lesson does not imprint on their still-developing brains until they are much older plus kids can be impulsive. When parents say, ‘Good-bye honey, be careful,’ it becomes routine and is forgotten soon after the door closes. Here are a few things parents can do to keep children safe:
Teach children the giant-step rules. Instructions such as ‘stay a safe distance from the curb’ do not mean much to children, their perception of distance may be off by several feet. Teach children in terms that are clearer to them: ONE GIANT STEP is equal to about TWO FEET.
• When the school bus approaches children should stand at least THREE GIANT STEPS (6 feet) from the curb.
• Danger zones for a school bus are ten feet on all sides of the bus; children need to be at least FIVE GIANT STEPS (10 feet) from the bus when walking around the bus or to cross the street in front of the bus.
Accompany young children to the bus stop or to school, drilling them along the way: “How many steps from the curb?” “Which way do you look?” “If you drop something getting off the bus, what do you do?” “You wait for the bus to do what before you step toward the curb?” and so on. Pretty soon kids are reciting safety rules all the way to and from school.
Parents can vary salutations in a manner that children will remember; instead of, “Good-bye honey, be careful,” try rhyming or singing school bus safety rules.
Watch fun videos with children that highlight safety rules from the library, YouTube, purchase online and so on. You can use Google or YouTube and search for “school bus safety children” or “pedestrian safety children” and you will get many resources to share with kids.
One risk to children is the number of motorists who ignore stopped school buses and sometimes don’t even slow down. Reporter Jeff Rossen recently rode behind a school bus as it carried children from school and it was surprising how many vehicles zoomed past the stopped bus.
There is new technology available to equip buses with cameras that will record errant motorists and automatically send fines in the mail. Drivers who wish to complain will have a link to a website where they can view the evidence.
Until the technology reaches every school bus, citizens can share information about the issue with friends and family. Below are links to reliable information and videos for parents and children along with posters to share on social media.
The day Katie ran in front of that car, I could imagine all our lives changing forever – our impulsive, joy-filled little darlings deserve better. Their safety is all our duties.
*You may share any of these posters on social media. That excludes the image above that is credited to “Let Ideas Compete.”
Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.
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