School buses are made to deliver children safely to school – and they do their job very well. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that students are about 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a bus instead of traveling by car.
But even still, during the back-to-school season, the Children's Health℠ Emergency Department sees an increase in trauma-related pedestrian, bicycle and even school bus injuries, many of which are preventable by following some simple safety guidelines.
School bus safety starts at the bus stop
Teach children that they should be careful around the bus stop. Take them to the bus stop before school starts to familiarize them with it. Remind them that they should not run or play while they are waiting. When school starts, they should arrive five minutes before the bus arrives to pick them up. While they wait to be picked up, they should stay at least 6 feet away from the curb.
10 school bus safety tips
The following are some safety tips to share with kids before they ride the bus to school:
- Teach your kids that yellow flashing lights indicate a bus is preparing to stop.
- Wait to get on board until the bus driver says it's safe.
- Be respectful of the bus driver, and always follow directions.
- Remain seated while riding the bus.
- Keep out of the danger zone. The bus driver can't see you if you're standing closer than 10 feet to the bus.
- If something falls under the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up yourself.
- While waiting for the bus, stay in a safe place away from the street.
- When you get on or off the bus, look for the bus safety lights and make sure they are flashing.
- STOP and look before hurrying away from the bus as you exit at the end of the day.
- When the bus driver says it is safe to cross the street, remember to cross in front of the bus.
School bus safety features
School buses are designed using strict guidelines set up by the NHTSA and must meet strict crash-testing criteria. Safety features on the outside of school buses include:
- Cross-view mirrors
- Flashing red lights
- High-visibility yellow color
- Stop-sign arm
Safety features on the inside of school buses include:
- High-crush standards
- Protective seating
- Rollover protection features
School bus driver safety
School bus drivers must also pass a series of safety checks, including:
- In-depth safety training
- Background and record checks
- Pre-employment and random drug and alcohol screenings
If you have specific questions about the buses or bus drivers in your school district, you should reach out to the transportation administrator.
How everyone can keep school buses safe
Help keep our kids safe by reporting the following to the appropriate school or school district:
- A school bus driver engaged in dangerous activity such as tailgating, ignoring traffic signs or signals, or texting while driving
- Dangerous conditions at a bus stop
- Buses exhibiting maintenance problems
Children's Health is here to help as your child prepares for a new year at school. See more tips and advice for making this school year a healthy and happy one.
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