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School Bus Safety in Ohio is a Team Effort

August 16, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio - It's back-to-school time in the Buckeye State, and experts say that when it comes to school bus safety, it isn't just the bus driver who is responsible for keeping children out of danger.

Dawne Gardner-Davis is an injury prevention specialist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, and she says it's important for families to go over school bus safety tips together.

She adds that parents should encourage kids to avoid horseplay while waiting for the bus, and look before stepping into the street to make sure there are no cars passing the bus.

And, and Gardner-Davis, who is also coordinator for the Injury-Free Coalition for Kids in Greater Cincinnati, points out that many injuries happen as children are getting on or off the bus.

"Parents want to make sure that they understand that buses have blind spots. About 10 feet in front of the bus, a driver really can't see. So, they need to make sure that their kids stay out of that blind spot area."

And while on the bus, Gardner-Davis says, kids need to remain seated, facing forward and not distracting the driver.

Other drivers also can help ensure that the ride to and from school is a safe one. Gardner-Davis says they need to obey traffic signs and bus signals, and stop if they're moving in the same direction as a stopped bus. But most important, she says, is to just pay attention.

"Kids are unpredictable. They get off the bus, especially at the end of the day - they're happy, they're playing, and they're just unpredictable - so it's up to the driver to protect children as pedestrians. "

She says pedestrian accidents happen all the time, and a high percentage involve children. Her best advice for parents is to set an example for kids to follow.

"These are all things that parents can actually show themselves, by where they stand with their kids waiting on a bus, and their behaviors when they cross the street. They want to look and make sure that the bus is stopped, and then make sure that they are 10 feet in front of that bus so that the driver can see them."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 19 people are killed in school transportation-related crashes each year.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH