Our soon-to-be-8-year-old son insists he’s old enough to walk alone up our driveway at the end of the school day. We think differently. Since we can’t see the bus stop from the house and we live on a busy road, we have made it a habit to wait by the road for his bus at the end of each day.
We have rules about the morning wait as well, about standing back from the roadway and allowing the bus to stop completely before approaching the doorway to climb the bus steps. We can choose to exercise some control over his safety on our property – what we can’t control is his safety on the bus, or getting on and off at school. By equipping him – and ourselves – with information, we can ensure we are all doing what we can to keep him as safe as possible.
An estimated 23 million students nationwide travel to and from school each day on a school bus. School districts are required by state law to provide transportation for students who live more than two miles (K-8) or three miles (9-12) from school. Check with your school district regarding school bus rules and regulations.
A little time spent talking about bus safety can keep everyone safer. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers the following bus safety advice:
- Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
- When the bus approaches, stand at least three giant steps (6 feet) away from the curb, and line up away from the street.
- Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it’s okay before stepping onto the bus.
- If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you, and you can see the bus driver.
- Use the handrails to avoids falls. When getting off the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps don’t get caught in the handrails or doors.
- Never walk behind the bus.
- Walk at least three giant steps away from the side of the bus.
- If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.
Adults in motor vehicles
- 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 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 state school bus laws. 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.
For more on school bus safety: