Officials Urge Bus Safety This School Year

According to American Medical Response, about 18,000 children are injured in bus accidents each year.

They add that 11 students were also killed last year in bus-related accidents involving another vehicle.

While this type of tragedy didn't happen in Mississippi last year, officials still aren't letting their guard down at the onset of this new school year.

School has just begun in South Mississippi, and buses are out in full force.

With it being the onset of a new school year, officials are anxious to drive home some important facts about bus safety.

"Most fatalities and injuries occur by children who are crossing the street getting on or off of the bus," said Chris Cirillo, EMS director for American Medical Response.

A good rule of thumb, officials say, is for children to stay at least 10 feet away from an approaching bus.

"Now a bus will come to a complete stop 10 feet prior to any children, even if they're walking toward the bus, children are encouraged to stay where they're at--at least ten feet from the curb and away from the approaching bus," said Sam Bailey, Biloxi Schools Director of Transportation.

Bus drivers are also advised to keep a close eye out as students prepare to get off the bus.

"Once the children are departing off the bus, what we have the driver do is make sure traffic has come to a complete stop, and with one sweeping hand motion, the students will be motioned to cross the street," Bailey said.

School transportation officials say that parents can also play a very important role when it comes to school bus safety.

"What I can ask of the parents is please, contact us, let us work with you, to let us handle any concerns you have about safety, a location, operation of a bus, any of those things. We need them as part of the equation," Bailey said.

Officials agree accidents do happen, but say the chances greatly decrease when everyone works together to learn about ways to cut down the risks.