Teach Your Kids School Bus Safety

It’s back-to-school season and that means school buses back on the roads, shuttling millions of American children on round trips five days a week.

While school buses are safer than personal vehicles for transporting kids to school,

children are more at risk when approaching or leaving a school bus or waiting at the bus stop. To ensure your kids take precautions and avoid dangerous behaviors that can lead to injury or worse, it’s important that you teach them school bus safety.

The following are tips from the National Highway Safety and Transportation Board and the nonprofit Safe Kids Worldwide:

Before the bus arrives

  • Ahead of the new school year, visit the bus stop and show your child(ren) where to wait for the bus: At least 10 feet — five giant steps — away from the curb.
  • They should arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus arrives.
  • They should always walk to the bus stop, not run. If your child is late and hurrying to the bus stop, they may make careless mistakes and not pay attention to vehicles and traffic conditions.
  • They should walk on the sidewalk, or if there is none, on the left side of the road facing oncoming traffic.
  • Teach your child that the bus stop is not a place to run or play.

Boarding and exiting

Before entering the school bus, your child should:

  • Wait until the bus comes to a complete stop,
  • The door opens, and
  • The driver says it’s okay to get on or off.

When entering and exiting the bus, younger children should use the handrails to avoid falling. They should also ensure that straps and drawstrings from jackets or backpacks don’t get caught in the door.

On the bus

  • After boarding, walk directly to a seat and sit down. This helps other kids move to the back if they are behind your child. Also, the bus driver won’t leave until everyone is sitting.
  • Remind them that they shouldn’t behave in any way that may distract the driver.
  • They should stay in their seat when the vehicle is moving, even if they drop something. If they do drop something, they should alert the driver after the bus stops so they can get out of their seat and retrieve it.
  • They should not hang out the windows or throw things on or out of the bus.
  • They shouldn’t shout or act boisterously.

After exiting

If your child needs to cross the street:

  • After exiting the bus, they should take five giant steps up the sidewalk so the driver can see them.
  • After that they should make eye contact with the driver, and only cross the street when the driver indicates it’s safe to do so.
  • Even though the driver has given them the go-ahead, teach your kids to look left, right and left again and cross when the road is clear, or when other vehicles have come to a complete stop.

It’s important that your child never walks behind the bus.

For the parents

As well as teaching your kids about school bus safety, you may want to brush up on safe driving around school buses:

  • Mind your speed — Obey the speed limit and slow down in school zones and near bus stops.
  • Stay alert for kids — If you see a school bus on the road, either moving or pulled over, stay alert and look for children who may be trying to get to or from the bus.
  • Yellow flashing lights — These indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. You should slow down and prepare to stop your vehicle.
  • Red flashing lights and extended stop-arms — These indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off. You must stop your car and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving, before you can start driving again.

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