Bus safety and general road safety will be reinforced to primary school aged children across Australia on National Walk Safely to School Day on Friday, May 19.
National Walk Safely to School Day is a community initiative that aims to raise awareness of the health, road safety, transport and environmental benefits that regular walking (especially to and from school) can provide for the long term well-being of our children.
Apart from the physical benefits, regular walking also has a favourable impact on their cognitive and academic performance.
The annual event, now in its 18th year, encourages primary school aged children to build walking into their daily routine, by walking to and from school, not just on Friday 19 May, but every day.
A big part of National Walk Safely to School Day is about getting to and from school safely, and that includes bus safety for children, families and drivers.
Being aware of road safety around buses reduces the risk of fatalities and accidents and ensures children are safe.
Harold Scruby, Chairman and CEO of the Pedestrian Council of Australia said: "As children are so vulnerable around schools, it is vital that parents and carers teach children how to cross roads safely, especially around buses, from an early age. As drivers we all need to be aware of the risks, and follow the rules around buses to protect lives. Buses are very large and significantly reduce drivers’ line of sight."
Driving safely near school buses is an integral part of keeping children safe. There is a 40kph speed limit for passing traffic that is setting down or picking up school children and drivers must obey the speed limit when the lights on the bus are flashing at the front and back. Giving way to buses and never parking in or near a bus stop also reduces the risk of an accident.
As parents and carers, teaching your children how to get on and off the bus safely can save lives. Your child is at greatest risk in the minutes getting off the bus so it’s important that you meet your child at the bus stop, not on the other side of the road, and wait until the bus has gone until crossing the road. Teaching your children to Stop! Look! Listen! Think! also teaches them safe pedestrian habits.
National Walk Safely to School Day also promotes improved diets (by asking schools and P and Cs to Host a Healthy Breakfast), positive environmental action, better use of public transport with reduced car-dependency and the vitally important road safety message: "Until they are 10, children must always hold the hand of an adult when crossing the road".
It also encourages parents and carers to walk more, reducing dangerous traffic congestion around schools, while minimising the risk of Australian children developing heart disease and diabetes.