BACK-TO-SCHOOL BUS SAFETY TIPS
Summer’s over and almost all your back-to-school preparation is finally complete - in part thanks to Sprout we hope :). But before you take that huge breath of relief as you get your students back into the school year routine, don’t forget to remind your children of a few important safety rules before they take that “last step” getting on the bus!
School buses have been around since our grandparents stopped walking 7 miles uphill both ways and we all have nostalgic memories of bus rides to school. Today, school buses are still widely used by 25 million students nationwide. Designed for safety, with flashing lights, giant mirrors, high seatbacks, and that iconic bright yellow color, school buses keep more than 17 million cars away from school buildings every day. Students are 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking the school bus than traveling by car or walking, making school buses the safest vehicle for your child to get to school.
Not only are they designed for safety externally, but also internally. School buses must be built to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for construction and performance and are specifically designed to prevent crashes and protect passengers when a crash occurs. School buses must also meet state and local specifications and standards for installed equipment, required maintenance, and undertake periodic mechanical and safety inspections. School buses are designed with flashing lights and stop signal arms to control traffic and alert motorists that they are stopping to pick up or drop off students.
SEAT BELTS SAVES LIVES
School buses are also the most law protected vehicles on the road. Since 2015, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been pushing for a law to be passed in support of making lap and shoulder belts a legal requirement. However, to this day, it has not become a legal requirement for children to wear their seatbelts. However, legally the bus driver must announce that seatbelts must be worn at all times while the vehicle is in motion, either through an announcement or signage and the driver can legally refuse to carry a passenger who does not wear their seat belt.
HOW CAN I KEEP MY CHILD SAFE WHEN USING A SCHOOL BUS?
Safety starts while they are waiting for the bus.
Your child may get easily bored waiting and want to start a game of ‘tag’ with their school friends. Teach your child that they must stay at least three giant steps (six feet) away from the curb and reminding them that the bus stop is not a place for playing. If you can’t accompany your child to the stop, make them recite the ‘bus stop rules’ to you every morning (waiting six feet away from the curb and no playing) before leaving the house. Encourage them to be aware of their surroundings and to only speak to adults that they are familiar with.
When the bus arrives, teach your child to WAIT until the bus comes to a complete stop, and to look left and right for oncoming traffic before boarding the bus.
Bus Stop Safety Checklist:
▢ Wait at least six feet away from the curb
▢ No playing at the bus stop
▢ Be aware of your surroundings
▢ Don’t talk to strangers
▢ Wait until the bus has come to a complete stop
▢ Look left to right before boarding
BEHAVIOR ON THE BUS
School bus drivers have undergone extensive training programs in student management, positive behavior reinforcement, recognizing bullying and advance safety procedures in order to provide the best student experience as they journey to school.
However, it’s important to teach our little ones how to behave properly whilst on the school bus and make them aware how dangerous it can be to distract and disturb the bus driver while they are in control of the vehicle. Talking quietly amongst friends in place of shouting and making loud noises can make the journey more pleasant as well as staying in their seats, resisting the urge to dangle their arms, head or legs out of the windows and keeping the aisles free from books and bags. Other safety measures that should take place is putting on those all-important seat belts and waiting for the bus to come to a complete stop before getting up off their seat.
Encouraging this behavior in your child can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and make the bus journey fun and enjoyable for everyone.
Sitting On The Bus Safety Checklist:
▢ Talk quietly with nearby friends
▢ Stay in your seat with your seat belt fastened
▢ Don’t put hands, arms or your head out of the windows
▢ Keep the aisle clear of belongings
▢ Wait until the bus has come to a complete stop
GETTING OFF THE BUS
We know how excited our children can get when they arrive at school to see their friends or to buy morning snacks from the cafeteria, but teaching them the same principles as getting on the bus for exiting the school bus can further prevent accidents. Remind them to WALK and not run while holding onto the rail as they go down the steps. If they need to cross the road to get to the school, the bus will have their stop arm out and they must cross the road in FRONT of the school bus and not the back. This is so the bus driver can direct them across safely and encourage them to persistently look out for traffic.
Then you can breathe a sigh of relief in the knowledge that they made it to and from school safely and happy.
Getting Off The Bus Safety Checklist:
▢ Walk, don’t run
▢ Hold the hand-rail as you walk down the steps
▢ Wait to cross the road in front of the school bus
▢ Cross when the driver signals you to go after you’ve looked out for traffic
Schools and organizations are working closely together every year to further protect students and promote bus safety through events, activities and lesson plans. Organizations such as SAFETY DOG are welcomed to local schools to train students in bus safety and bus behavior, and schools carry out contests and activities to ensure children have fun whilst understanding the seriousness of staying safe when using school buses.