For millions of students nationwide, the school day begins and ends with a trip on the school bus. The greatest risk is not riding the actual bus ride itself, but approaching or leaving the bus. Before your children go back to school or start school for the first time, it's essential that adults and children know traffic safety rules.
The Danger Zone
The "danger zone" refers to the areas extending 15 feet to the front, rear and sides of the bus. Danger zone accidents can be avoided by teaching your kids to stay more than 15 feet away from these areas when loading and unloading the school bus.
Tips for Drivers
- Look for children walking or bicycling to school before backing out of the driveway or leaving a garage. Young people may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be thinking about getting there safely.
- Slow down. Be on the lookout for children walking in the street.
- Be alert. Kids don't always pay attention and could dart out into the street without looking.
- 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 arm 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 Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
Teach your child school bus safety
- Get to the bus stop early, at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
- Always stand at least 6 feet (three giant steps) away from the street when waiting to load the bus.
- Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it is 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.
- Stay visible. The bus driver should be able to see you, and you should always be able to see the bus driver.
- Hold onto the handrails when entering and existing the bus.
- When existing the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps do not get caught in the handrails or doors.
- Avoid the Danger Zone.
On the bus
Safety can't be achieved without the attention of both the bus driver and students. Share these tips with your student so they can do their part to make their school bus ride safe:
- Listen to the school bus driver in case there are any special instructions for the bus ride.
- Sit quietly in your seat.
- Speak quietly to the other children near you.
- Do not jump up and down, fight or tease other students or make a lot of noise. These activities can distract the bus driver and prevent him or her from giving proper attention to driving.
Source: Insurance Information Institute www.iii.org.
For more information about school bus safety, visit the National Highway Traffic Saftey Administration.