According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, children are much safer taking a bus to and from school than traveling by car. However, injuries can occur if kids are not aware of the potential hazards before, during and after the bus ride.
Teaching children the following school bus safety rules before they first step onto the bus this school year, will help keep them safe and confident, ready for the first day of school.
- Do a dry run. Practice the route to the bus stop before the first day. This will help you plan how much time will be needed to get to the stop in plenty of time.
- Arrive early at the bus stop. Be at the bus stop at least 5 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. Rushing to get there on time to not miss the bus adds anxiety to an already anxious first (or second, third, fourth … ) day of school.
- Have your child practice where to wait for the bus. It’s important for children to stand at least 6 feet — or three giant kid steps — away from the curb and to pay attention to their surroundings at all times.
- What to do when the bus arrives. Let your child know to wait for it to come to a complete stop, the doors open, and the bus driver indicates it’s OK to approach the bus and climb aboard.
- Board safely. If there are several children at the bus stop, make sure they know to board the bus single file.
- Explain to your child why extra caution should be taken with backpack straps, scarves, jacket drawstrings and other items getting caught while boarding the bus and to use the handrails to prevent accidental falls. Let your child know that the bus driver should always be able to see him or her.
- Once on the bus, your child should know appropriate behavior to keep distractions for the bus driver to a minimum to help keep the bus occupants safe:
- Always remain seated while the bus is moving
- Keep isles clear of objects
- Keep the noise down
- Never stick hands and arms out the window
- Don’t play games or toss objects around on the bus (or while waiting for the bus at the bus stop)
- When exiting the bus, teach your child to always avoid the Danger Zone — this area 10 feet all around the bus is the most dangerous.
Riding a school bus offers young children lessons on how to be responsible, manage their time, and handle adversity when the bus is late, or the weather isn’t so great. The independence garnered from this experience will also help build their confidence to meet the challenges ahead.
Sources: Family Education Learning, National Highway Traffic Safety Association, Safe Kids Worldwide.