Expert Offers School Bus Safety Tips

Do you know that about 140 people in the United States lose their lives every year due to school transportation accidents? California traffic school as well as NY defensive driving courses have shown a direct increase in students linked to the increase of collisions on the road.

According to Dawne Gardner who works as the injury prevention coordinator at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, school-bus related disasters are preventable. In a recent medical press release, Gardner encouraged parents to speak with their children about school bus safety. She says that starting out each new school year by talking about safety has the ability to save lives.

Gardner explains that children are most at risk when getting on or off of the school bus. This is because there is an unavoidable blind spot that reaches out about 10 feet ahead of the bus. This blind spot blocks the bus driver’s view. Children are often unaware that this blind spot exists, which is why it is so important to discuss it with them. Otherwise, a child may assume that if they can see the bus, that the bus driver can see them as well.

Gardner offers the following specific safety precautions to protect your children from tragedy:

  • Instruct your children to stand at least 10 feet in front or behind of their school bus.
  • Make sure your children get to the bus stop early. Even 5 minutes extra will help the child to not feel rushed. Accidents can happen when children are in a hurry and are running up to the bus to catch it.
  • Teach your children that waiting for the bus is not a time for playing around. Being silly and not paying attention to what is happening around them can put them in harm’s way.
  • Tell your children that when their bus pulls up, they are to take 3 steps back from the curb, just to be safe. They should not move from this spot until the bus has fully stopped and the driver has opened the door.

It is also very important to tell your children that if they drop something, tell the driver immediately. The bus driver needs to be able to see the child pick up the item. As they enter the bus, children should utilize the handrails. Make them aware that they could accidentally catch their backpack or other loose clothing on places like the bus door. Once the child has taken their seat, they should stay there. Shouting, throwing objects or having rowdy behavior distracts the bus driver, which is dangerous for all passengers.

The bus should be at a complete stop before anyone gets out of their seat. Using handrails to exit the bus will prevent falls. When getting off of the bus, taking 5 steps in front of it while making eye contact with the driver is also recommended. If the child needs to cross the street, they should only do so after the driver gives them the OK. At this point, the child needs to look left, right and left again before crossing.

Want to learn more about school bus safety? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can provide you with additional information, through their website.