School buses are built to get children to school safely – 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 than by car.
But 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 simple safety guidelines. Learn more with these school bus safety tips for students.
A safe ride to school starts with bus stop safety
Teach children they should be careful around the bus stop. Take them to the bus stop before school starts to familiarize them with it. Remind them they should not run or play while they are waiting for the bus. Kids should arrive five minutes before the bus arrives to pick them up. While they wait to be picked up, they should stay at least 10 feet away from the curb.
What are simple school bus safety rules?
Follow these 10 simple school bus safety rules to keep kids safe on their way to school:
- Teach your kids that yellow flashing lights indicate a bus is preparing to stop.
- Wait to get on the bus until the bus driver says it's safe.
- Be respectful of the bus driver and always follow directions.
- Remain seated while riding the bus.
- The bus driver can't see you if you're standing closer than 10 feet to the bus. Keep out of this danger zone.
- 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 both ways as you exit the bus.
- When the bus driver says it is safe to cross the street, remember to cross in front of the bus.
How safe are school buses?
School buses are designed using strict NHTSA guidelines 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 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 your school district's buses or bus drivers, you should contact your transportation administrator.
How everyone can keep school buses safe
Help keep your 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
Back-to-school tips for a healthy, happy school year
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.