The following story is every parent's nightmare.
A school bus in western Wisconsin has run over a 12-year-old boy and injured his legs.
The accident happened shortly before 5 p.m. Friday in River Falls, Wis.
Police Sgt. Jon Aubart said that Jacob Wheeler was crossing a street when the bus turned left and struck the boy.
Aubart says the bus knocked Jacob to the ground and the rear wheels ran over his legs.
No children were on the bus. The driver was not cited.
A hospital spokeswoman says Jacob is in fair condition at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, Minn.
More than 20 million students use school buses as transportation to and from school every day.
Although school buses represent the safest form of highway transportation, there are a number of safety factors both students and drivers should be aware of, says Menominee County Sheriff Kenny Marks.
"Children are often eager to get off the school bus because they are excited to tell their parents about all the fun they had at school that day," Sheriff Marks said.
"It is crucial that parents re-enforce the school bus safety rules children learn at school."
To help prevent accidents, Sheriff Marks and Iron County Sheriff Mark Valesano offer the following school bus safety advice:
- Always arrive at the bus stop early.
- Prior to boarding, wait until the bus has come to a complete stop, the door opens, and the bus driver says that it's OK to board.
- Always walk on the sidewalk when preparing to cross the street near a bus.
- Make eye contact with the driver so that you are sure he or she sees you.
- Never walk behind the bus.
- If you are walking beside the bus, walk at least three giant steps away.
- Take extra precaution to make sure that clothing with drawstrings and book bags do not get caught in the hand rail or door.
- Never stop to pick something up that you have dropped when a bus is stopped. Wait until the bus has driven away to pick up the item.
- Remember that children are unpredictable in their actions. Take extreme caution when traveling in a school zone.
- If there are no sidewalks, drive cautiously. Be more alert to the possibility of children walking in the road.
- Be more aware of children playing near school bus stops.
- Slow down and prepare to stop whenever you see yellow school bus lights flashing.
- Never pass a school bus when there are flashing red lights. This is a sign that children are getting on or off the bus.
Safety experts offer the following advice:
- Never run to or from the bus. As in any traffic situation, walking is the safest way to travel. This is especially true when considering how children often dart into busy streets. A child who is running takes 3-5 steps to stop while a child who is walking can stop in a single step. Young children should always walk across streets and to and from their school bus.
- Don't push or shove. Any aggressive activity, whether at the bus stop or on the bus, is dangerous. Pushing or shoving near the bus can cause a child to slip under the bus, and out of sight of the driver. Aggressive behavior on the bus can distract the driver.
- Stay in your seat. There are two reasons for staying in your seat. First, most school buses have no seat belts, and their padded seats will work to protect passengers only when seated. Second, moving about on the bus can distract the driver, contributing to a crash.
- Don't yell or shout. While talking on the bus is acceptable, yelling or shouting is not. This can be distracting to drivers who take their eyes off of the road to check on passengers.
- Obey the driver. To ensure maximum safety, children should follow the directions of Michigan's experienced and highly trained school bus drivers. Encourage students to help drivers make the ride to and from school the safest it can be.