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Bus Safety: we all play a role

The safety record for school buses is remarkable. Traveling on a school bus is six times safer than the family car, and school buses record the fewest fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles.

In fact, most of the student injuries or deaths that do occur happen in the area outside the bus. That’s why being safety-conscious is not only important for school bus drivers, but also for students, parents, and motorists. We all have a role in making sure children’s travel to and from school is safe.

Parents can help protect their children in a variety of ways, including:

  • Dressing students in bright clothing that’s easy to see and does not obstruct their vision.
  • Providing children with backpacks or book bags so they do not endanger themselves recovering dropped items.
  • Making sure that clothing and book bags are free of dangling drawstrings or other items that could get caught on the handrail or door of the bus as children are boarding or exiting.
  • Ensuring that students are at the bus stop a few minutes before the bus arrives.
  • Reminding children of their responsibility to behave properly while waiting for and riding on the bus.
  • Keeping bus stop areas free of trash cans, snow drifts in winter, or other obstructions that could make it difficult for the driver or other motorists to see children.

Many schools provide bus safety programs for young children. Parents can help them learn about safety, too. Be sure your children know and follow these rules to help them and other children stay safe.

Walking to the bus stop

  • Be on time. Give yourself plenty of time to reach the bus stop. Walk quickly, but don’t run.
  • Walk safely. Stay on sidewalks, if there are none, walk on the left side of the road facing oncoming traffic. Cross the street only at intersections or crosswalks. If possible, walk with a “buddy.”
  • Never talk to strangers, accept rides or take anything from anyone you don’t know. If a stranger in a car approaches you, stay away and notify a parent, the bus driver, or another adult you know immediately.
  • Stay away from the side and rear of the bus. It’s not easy for the driver to see near the back tires, close to the sides, or right in front of or behind the bus. Move away from the bus where the driver can see you.
  • If you must cross the street at your stop, wait for an “all clear” signal from the driver before you leave the curb. Look both ways before crossing and always cross in front of the bus.

Waiting for the bus

  • Don’t run around or play at the bus stop. Behavior that may be appropriate for the playground can be dangerous at the bus stop.
  • Stay out of the street. Traffic is often heavy in the morning. You could be hit by a car or cause an accident if you’re too close to the road.
  • Respect property. Don’t run across people’s yards, climb their trees or fences, or wander into their buildings or garages. Stay at the bus stop.
  • Be quiet. Some neighbors may still be sleeping when you leave for school, so try not to be noisy.

Getting on the bus

  • Stand back from the road as the bus approaches.
  • Form a single line in front of the door. Don’t push or shove – wait your turn.
  • If you have to cross the street when the bus has stopped, look both ways before stepping into the street. Motorists are required to stop, but don’t always comply. Never cross between parked cars. Stay far enough out in front of the bus that you can see the driver and the driver can see you.
  • Use the handrail when climbing aboard the bus. Leave room for the student in front of you to climb aboard safely.
  • Move quickly but carefully toward your seat, making sure you don’t bump into other students with your backpack or other items you may be carrying.
  • Sit down right away so you’re not standing when the bus begins to move – you could lose your balance and hurt yourself or another student. If your bus has seat belts, you must buckle up.

Riding on the bus

  • Be quiet. It’s OK to talk quietly with people near you, but never scream or yell. The driver needs to concentrate on the road. Too much noise or sudden yells or screams could distract the driver.
  • Stay in your seat. Never kneel or stand on the seat.

Do not get up and walk around

  • Keep the aisle clear. Nothing – including books, backpacks, legs, or arms – should block the aisle.
  • Keep yourself and your belongings inside. If you are permitted to open the window, keep your hands, arms, head, and all objects in the bus.
  • Never throw anything while riding the bus – either out of the windows or in the bus.
  • Share your seat. Don’t argue about who sits next to you. This prevents other students from quickly and safely boarding the bus.
  • Always obey the bus driver and, if there is one, the bus aide.

Getting off the bus

  • Pay attention. Be organized and ready to leave when the bus reaches your stop. Don’t keep the driver and others waiting while you gather your belongings.
  • Stay in your seat until the bus stops. Don’t push or shove while getting off.
  • Leave the bus stop area immediately so you are out of the way of the bus and other vehicles when the bus leaves.

In case of emergency

  • Stay calm.
  • Listen to the driver and follow instructions.
  • Older children should help by setting a good example and assisting younger children.

Every child deserves a chance to learn and no child succeeds alone.

© 1999- California Teachers Association