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Deaths and Injuries of Pedestrians by Age and Circumstance, United States, 2011 (percentages) < 5 Years Old 5 – 9

No improper action or circumstance Darting or running into roadway Other action

In roadway, improperly (lying, playing) Improper crossing of road/intersection Failure to obey traffic signs, signal Not visible (no lighting, dark clothing) Inattentive (talking, eating, etc.) Not reported/unknown Totals*

37.2 42.6 11.1

8.4 0.6 6.4 0.0 0.0 5.3


27.9 62.6 19.6 1.6 1.5

2.6 0.0 2.6 1.6


10 – 14 43.3

36.2 18.5 3.9 2.0 1.4

4.6 1.0 2.3


26.7 13.5 3.8 3.4 2.1 1.8

3.3 6.3


Source: National Safety Council tabulations of NHTSA General Estimates System data. * Totals are greater than 100 percent as multiple actions/circumstances may be entered for each case. Columns may not sum to totals because of rounding.

15 – 19 49.3

zone design, agreed that training must be improved and expanded to include proper crossing procedures. Like Fischer, he said he was surprised to learn that far more students were killed around bus stops than in the school bus “danger zone," the 10-foot circumference around the vehicle. “Parents need to understand there are

certain behaviors that are appropriate at the bus stop. Start when the kids are young … teach them how to wait for the bus, how to walk to the bus and how to cross safely,” said Finlayson-Schueler. He was also surprised by a new trend

related to the age of the victims. Te majority were 10 years of age or older. Kansas’ report indicated all nine students were ages 10 and up. STN’s research found that 9 out of 15 were in that age range. In the current school year, 10 out of 14 students were ages 10 and up. Tis means that half as many younger students ages 2 to 9 died during loading and unloading since June 30, 2011, compared to older students — 10 versus 19, respectively. Finlayson-Schueler said this may be due

in part to the fact that middle and high school students tend to walk longer dis- tances to bus stops and catch the bus earlier, which may mean waiting in the dark. Te Kansas survey reports that two fatal- ities occurred in the dark and two at dawn, but STN research shows many more cases when law enforcement cited “dark” condi- tions — six for 2011-2012 and seven for this school year. STN also checked accident times against sunrise times at each location, and found that more occurred in the fall and winter months, when there is less daylight.

Of the 21 students who died after being

struck while crossing the road, 13 cases (62 percent) occurred in the predawn hours when drivers have limited visibility. Both Fischer and Finlayson-Schueler pointed to the increase in school district effi- ciency measures, such as multi-tiered routing and reducing the number of bus stops. “Many of the things you do to save mon-

ey create risk. If you route your buses so you don’t have crossing stops, then later decide you’re going to cut those routes and require kids to cross to stops, you’ve increased your risk,” said Finlayson-Schueler. “It’s the same when you go from two to three tiers — by starting your first tier in the dark, you are increasing your risk.” Fischer noted that the simplest solution is to eliminate crossing stops or to prohibit students from crossing the road or highway until their yellow bus arrives. “You have to tell people that they cannot

have kids cross the roadway before the bus gets there and stops,” he added. “You have to use the bus’ flashing red lights for safe pas- sage, same as you would do in the afternoon.” Fischer said he is disheartened that Califor- nia is the only state that mandates school bus drivers must exit the bus to help students cross the street. When he talks with drivers, he said most of them agree that this is a necessary step to protect students, but others argue they aren’t allowed to leave their bus. “Tat rule means you can’t go for coffee,”

Fischer clarified. “What they need to do is turn off the bus, take out the key and cross the kids.” When California bus drivers hold stop

signs and escort their students, they are also serving as a crossing guard. Fischer said it’s no coincidence that this state rarely reports a death during loading and unloading. Just to be safe, some California cities, like

Long Beach, still rely on crossing guards to shepherd students across busy roads. Sue Perkins, assistant director of transportation at the Long Beach Unified School District, said crossing guards are a “very important” part of the safety equation, particularly since busing is no longer provided to general-ed- ucation students. Some guards help students cross major arteries and six-lane highways. “We have guards that do a great job, and

they are always professionally attired and very cognizant of their duties,” said Perkins. “Tere are some tough intersections, and they do a really good job of keeping kids safe.” Cathy Medina, a special services officer

at the Long Beach Police Department, has overseen the city’s crossing guard training program since 1998. She said new hires are trained in-house and out in the field, at both controlled and uncontrolled inter- sections, and all guards receive refresher training twice a year. She conducts extensive background checks on the 10 guards she hires, on average, each year. More students are walking now than ever, she explained, because they must attend their home schools now that there are no buses. “It takes a very special person to do this

job, working split shifts and not making a lot of money,” Medina said. “Tey’re such an asset to our community. Tey’re the eyes and ears of our city and watching our most precious assets — our children.”  35

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