October 17, 2005 – Posted at 1:45 p.m. CDT
PARAGOULD, AR -- Last year, two school bus accidents in Region 8 claimed the lives of two children, but one school is working to change that.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports there are more than 16,000 school bus accidents every year. These collisions cause at least 12,000 injuries and 120 deaths.
Everyday Paragould school busses go out on their routes, picking up between 1600-1700 students. They start their morning at 6:30 a.m. and they don't drop off the last child until around 4:30. But it's the time they spend in between that makes the biggest difference in student safety on the bus.
“How many of you ride busses?” asked Paragould Schools director of operation Rick Norman to a group of elementary students raising their hands eagerly.
Paragould kindergarteners and first and second graders got a lesson in bus safety Monday.
“What if you drop something coming across in front of the bus?” questioned Norman to the group.
From learning about safety lights to how to exit the bus during an emergency, the kids were able to brush up on their bus knowledge.
“They kindly know this, especially the ones...we start in kindergarten and work our way up, and as they get on up in the second and third grade,” said Norman, “They're pretty familiar with it. But it never hurts to go back and refresh that memory.”
The Paragould school district has 24 routes and 26 drivers, and everybody on board needs to know the rules.
“Are you going to stick your arm out the window?” asked Norman to a bunch of heads shaking no.
Norman estimates he'll speak to about a thousand kids during school bus safety week. But he says if the information can help save one child's life...it's worth it.