Back to school means it's time for a safety review, and these school bus safety tips will help keep your kids safe in transit.
With a new school year comes new responsibilities, new faces, and new anxieties—for parents and children. But there are also new adventures, old friends, and exciting stories to share. Through it all, there is one overarching theme that parents and teachers around the country all believe in: safety.
Whether you're in the school building or on the school bus, safety tips never go out of style. Your child's school likely has plenty of safety built into the school rules: Don't run in the hall. Don't throw your pencils. No peanuts allowed in lunches or snacks.
The school bus, however, is a moving entity. A school bus does have rules, but there is a lot of potential for confusion. It's easier than you may believe for a parent to miss a school bus drop off or for things like road closures to turn a bus route into an obstacle course for even the most skilled drivers.
Sharing school bus safety tips with your child can help them feel confident that they'll know what to do in case of an emergency, however minor or major.
Lesson you can share with your children to keep them safe when you aren't there
First, it's worth pointing out that school buses are some of the safest vehicles on the road. When a bus is involved in an accident, it makes headline news in part because we, as a society, care about the well-being of our kids, but also because it's such a rare occurrence. School buses are bright, large, and have flashing lights—they're hard for other drivers to miss!
When accidents do happen, though, serious injuries are rare. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, "school buses use a unique technology called compartmentalization—a passive occupant protection system" that is designed to protect students "within the seating compartment much like eggs in a carton."
Still, school bus safety tips help ensure that your child gets to and from school with peace of mind for you and them. Give your child the following tips and let them roll their eyes at you. They'll appreciate your wisdom someday.
Getting to the bus
- Follow basic pedestrian precautions. Cross the street at the corner, look both ways for oncoming traffic, and cross streets with traffic lights if they are present.
- When they're waiting for the bus, don't rough house or run near the street. It's a busy time of day for everyone, and like it or not, drivers are more distracted than ever; they may not see a small child running into the street during a game of tag.
- Do not approach the bus until it has come to a complete stop and opened the doors.
- If your child has to cross the street to get to the bus, cross in front of the bus. Also, look both ways before crossing, as other drivers don't always stop even though they are supposed to.
Riding the bus
- Remain seated at all times. It's too easy to lose balance and fall if they are standing or walking while the bus is in motion. It's also distracting to the driver.
- Keep their hands and head inside the bus at all times. Buses are tall enough that they occasionally scrape tree branches or other hazards.
- Don't throw things as that could injure someone or distract the driver.
Getting off the bus
- Gather belongings before their stop and remain seated until the bus comes to a complete stop.
- If they have to cross the street: cross in front of the bus, look both ways for oncoming traffic, and make sure they can make eye contact with the bus driver.
- If your child forgets something, they should not return to the bus. The driver may not see them. If there is a bus monitor, they can try to get their attention. About School points out that "if you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver before you attempt to pick it up, so they will know where you are."
- Go straight home. Children should never get in a car with a stranger (including going to help them find a lost puppy or see a cool toy) or even someone they know who makes them uncomfortable. If someone they don't know offers to give them a ride or asks for directions, they should run away and tell a trusted adult. If your child is in a public space, they can go into a store or restaurant and ask for help. Security expert Gavin De Becker suggests that children who need help should approach another mom if at all possible. "A woman approached by a ... child asking for help is likely to stop whatever she is doing, get down to the kid’s eye level, commit to that child, and not rest until the child is safe."
- Choose a meeting location. If you are late picking your child up from the bus stop, designate a place for them to wait, preferably in a nearby business. Regulations vary, so in some cases, your child may not be allowed off the bus without a parent or guardian there to meet them. In that case, check with your transportation provider to find out what their policy is.
- Hopefully, your child will never experience an emergency situation en route to or from school, but in case the unexpected does happen, have them follow the directions of the bus driver or monitor.
- If there is an emergency that the driver is unaware of, like a sick passenger or someone having a medical emergency, tell your child it's okay to alert the driver right away.
- In the case that the driver or monitor is not able to help, it's best to remain on the bus, except in certain cases. Lt. Paul Hasenmeier, a Huron, Ohio, firefighter says that "if a fire starts on the bus, statistics show that smoke, hazardous gases, and fire will spread throughout the bus within two minutes. Therefore, an evacuation is essential."
We certainly hope your child never has to face an emergency situation, but it's always best to be prepared. It's also good to be prepared at home in case of anything from a break-in to a fire. That's why Pekin Insurance is your go-to source to for home insurance. Get in touch with your local agent today.