The school bus is the safest vehicle on the road. Your child is much safer taking a bus to and from school than traveling by car. Although four to six school-age children die each year on school transportation vehicles, that’s less than one percent of all traffic fatalities nationwide.
Students are about 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a bus instead of traveling by car. That’s because school buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road; they’re designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries; and in every state, stop-arm laws protect children from other motorists.
Tips for Riding the Bus
- Walk with your young children to the bus stop and wait with them until it arrives. Make sure drivers can see the children at your bus stop.
- Teach your children to stand at least three giant steps back from the curb as the bus approaches and board the bus one at a time.
- Teach children to wait for the school bus to come to a complete stop before getting off and not to walk behind the bus.
- If your child needs to cross the street after exiting the bus, they should take five giant steps in front of the bus, make eye contact with the bus driver and cross when the driver indicates it’s safe. Teach children to look left, right, and left again before crossing the street.
- Instruct younger children to use handrails when boarding or to exit the bus. Be careful of straps or drawstrings that could get caught in the door.
- Your child should never walk behind a school bus. If your child must cross the street in front of the bus, tell him/her to walk on a sidewalk or along the side of the street to a place at least five giant steps (10 feet) in front of the bus before crossing. Your child should also make eye contact with the bus driver before crossing to make sure the driver can see him/her. If your child drops something near the school bus, like a ball or book, the safest thing is for your child to tell the bus driver right away. Your child should not try to pick up the item because the driver might not be able to see them.
- Your child should be on time at your designated bus stop – They shall be at their assigned bus stops FIVE minutes before the bus is scheduled to depart. The bus cannot wait for those who are tardy.
- Children waiting for the bus should not play in the street or on private property – They should wait for your bus in a safe place, well off the roadway. Respect others’ property: do not play in yards near the bus stop.
- While on the bus: Follow the instructions of your school bus driver – Treat everyone with courtesy and respect. INAPPROPRIATE CONDUCT, USE OF OBJECTIONABLE LANGUAGE, OR ABUSE OF OTHERS WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. Do not extend objects, hands, or head out of the bus window. Serious injury could result. Due to allergies, health, and safety concerns, there will be NO EATING OR DRINKING ALLOWED ON THE BUS. Remain quiet and orderly. Students will be assigned to a specific seat. Stay seated, seat to seat, back to back. Do not distract the driver. Keep the aisle clear. Talk quietly while on the bus. Be totally silent at all railroad crossings. No electronic equipment with a video display may be operated while on the bus – this includes but is not limited to notebook computers, portable DVD players, cameras, cellular phones, and handheld game devices. If students must bring this equipment to school, it must be secured inside the student’s backpack while on the bus. Students may use MP3-type music devices for personal use, provided they are used with headphones, and the device is in a backpack or pocket, and the device does not become a distraction on the bus. The student needs to hear driver instructions clearly.
Bus Safety Tips for the Drivers
Here are some recommendations for people driving near schools and school bus stops. Heightened awareness will help keep students safe whether they walk to school or ride the bus.
- When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.
- When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school but may not be thinking of getting there safely.
- Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood.
- Slow down. Watch for children playing and congregating near bus stops.
- Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
- Learn and obey the school bus laws in your state. Learn the “flashing signal light system” that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions:
- Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
- Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped and that children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
Interesting School Bus Facts
Approximately 480,000 yellow school buses carry 25 million children to and from school every weekday.
Only half of America’s students take the school bus to school; the others use more dangerous forms of transportation.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, an average of 820 students are killed annually during school transportation hours, but less than 2% of them are school bus passengers.
In the United States, we lose more than 800 children every year because they are not in school buses. Most of the fatalities (55%) occur in cars driven by teenagers. School buses are required to meet higher construction, equipment, and inspection standards than any other vehicle, and their drivers are required to meet higher qualifications, training, and testing standards than any other drivers on the road.