About 23 million students in the U.S. take the school bus to and from school every day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) school buses are the safest way to get children to and from school. But what most parents don’t know is that the greatest safety risk isn’t riding the bus but getting on and off it.
Keep the following tips in mind when preparing your child to take the school bus to school.
Getting safely to and from the bus stop
- You or another trusted caregiver should escort young children, especially kindergartners, to and from the bus stop. Model how to stay safe by using the sidewalk and holding hands.
- Older children and teens should have a bus-stop buddy, someone they walk with to and from the bus stop.
- Children should know how to follow traffic signals and only cross streets at crosswalks.
- Drivers don’t always follow the rules of the road. Teach your children to be cautious pedestrians by waiting for cars to come to a complete stop before crossing a street.
- Children should stay three giant steps back from the curb while waiting for their bus to arrive.
Getting on and off the bus
- Most school transportation injuries occur when a child is getting on or off the bus.
- Children should stay clear of the bus’s doors when opening and closing.
- If your child drops something while getting on or off the bus, it’s she should tell the bus driver and get permission to pick the item up. This prevents her from being accidentally hit.
Staying safe on the bus
- Children should stay in their seats until the bus comes to a complete stop.
- If your child’s school bus provides seat belts, she should always wear it.
Teach your child about the danger zone
- The danger zone is the area 10 feet in front of, behind and to the sides of the bus. Visibility in these spaces is limited for both the bus driver and other drivers. • Don’t walk behind the bus as it’s driving away.
- Drivers don’t always stop when they see bus lights flashing red or yellow. Teach your kids to use listen and watch for cars even when the buses lights are flashing.
What you can do as a driver
- Most accidents involving children pedestrians happen in the hour before and after school. Be extra cautious for children walking to and from school buses during this time.
- Follow all speed limits, especially in school zones.
- When traveling behind, beside or opposite a bus in a lane with no median must stop when the bus lights are flashing red and remain stopped until all children have reached safety.