A few facts:
- School buses are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in avoiding crashes and preventing injury – Today’s school buses are built with safety in mind. They are tougher, cleaner and more diligently maintained than ever before. School bus drivers are required to receive special security and medical training, and undergo regular drug and alcohol testing to provide a safe ride for your child. And school bus traffic laws are strictly enforced.
- School buses are the safest mode of transportation for getting children back and forth to school – Students are about 50 times more likely to arrive at school alive if they take the bus than if they drive themselves or ride with friends. But did you also know that your child is much safer riding the bus than being driven by you? Add in the environmental and financial benefits, and it’s hard to find a reason to send your kids to school any other way.
- School buses keep an annual estimated 17.3 million cars off roads surrounding schools each morning – Imagine a world with less traffic, cleaner air, and more affordable transportation. These are just some of the benefits that school bus ridership provides. While school buses are one of the safest ways to send your kids to school, there are many good reasons that make them a growing choice among parents for their children’s school commute.
While riding the bus is much safer for your child than riding the car to school, there are still a few risks worth taking into account. In fact, in 2009 alone, over 20,000 people were injured nationwide in accidents involving busses.
In fact, the greatest risk of all, is not riding the bus, but getting on or off the bus. Children need to be especially careful around the bus’ danger zone – the 10 feet in front, behind and on each side of the school bus.
Here’s what you should teach your child about school bus safety:
- Always walk to the bus stop. Never run.
- Walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left facing traffic.
- While at the bus stop, wait in a safe place away from the road. Do not run and play while waiting.
- Never speak to strangers at the bus stop and never get into the car with a stranger. Always go straight home and tell you parents if a stranger tries to talk to you or pick you up.
- Wait until the driver says it is safe to board the bus, then get on one at a time.
- Once on the school bus, go directly to your seat and sit down facing forward. Remain in your seat facing forward as long as the school bus is moving.
- If you drop something while getting on or off the school bus, ask the driver for help.
- If you need to talk to the bus driver: wait for the bus to stop, raise your hand, and call the driver’s name.
- Keep all your loose items inside your backpack or book bag.
- Be respectful of the school bus driver, and always obey his or her instructions.
- Never throw things on the bus or out the windows. Never play with the emergency exits.
- Once you’re off the school bus, walk five giant steps from the front of the bus, cross in front of the bus when the driver indicates it is safe, stop at the edge of the bus – look left-right-left again for traffic, and if there’s no traffic, cross the street.
There are also a few rules to be aware of as a parent:
- Have your child wear bright, contrasting colors so they will be more easily seen by drivers.
- Make sure they leave home on time so they can walk to the bus stop and arrive before the bus is due. Running can be dangerous.
- Walk your young child to the bus stop and have older children walk in groups. There is safety in numbers; groups are easier for drivers to see.
- Make sure your child stands at least 10 feet (5 giant steps) from the road while waiting for the bus. The child will then be out of the way of traffic. Have younger children practice taking 5 giant steps to become familiar with 10 feet.
- Teach your children to secure loose drawstrings and other objects that may get caught in the handrail or door of the bus as they are exiting.
- Give your child a note or follow the school’s procedures if you would like for the child to get off at a stop other than the one they are assigned. The driver isn’t allowed to let a child off at another stop without written permission.
- If you meet your child at the bus stop after school, wait on the side where the child will be dropped off, not across the street. Children can be so excited at seeing you after school that they dash across the street and forget the safety rules.