9 School Bus Safety Tips For Children

9 School Bus Safety Tips For Children

As parents, the safety of our children is always a top priority, especially when they are away from home. School bus travel is a daily routine for millions of kids, but we know it can feel overwhelming to put your little ones on the bus for the first time and watch them drive away.

Here are some school bus safety tips you can share with your children so you and your kids both have peace of mind as they journey to and from school each day.

1. Getting to the Bus Stop Safely

Teach your child to leave home on time so they get to the bus stop at least a few minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. For younger children, driving them to the bus stop can ensure their safety right up to boarding the bus. It also provides an opportunity to reinforce safety habits, such as looking both ways before crossing the street and staying a safe distance from the curb.

If driving your child isn't an option, consider having them walk with an older sibling or a responsible child from the neighborhood. This buddy system not only offers additional safety but also teaches responsibility and provides a positive role model for the younger children to follow safety protocols.

2. Waiting For the Bus

While waiting at school bus stops, children should be in a designated safe place, well away from the curb and away from traffic. This ensures they're safely out of the way of any passing vehicles and visible to the driver as it approaches. Make sure your child knows to remain in this safe zone and not move towards the bus until it has made a complete stop and the door opens.

Even then, they should be vigilant and continue to check both ways for oncoming traffic before approaching the bus, as drivers may sometimes ignore the red flashing lights and stop arm extended into the road.

3. Boarding the Bus

When it's time to board the bus, it's important to have clear rules in place for your child. First and foremost, they should wait until the bus stops and the driver signals that it's safe to board. Ensure your child understands that even when the bus appears to be stopping, they must wait for the complete halt and a signal from the driver before stepping forward.

4. Seating and Behavior Expectations

Once on the school bus, it's crucial for children to quickly find a seat before the bus begins moving and understand proper behavior expectations. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration highlights the importance of children being seated and facing forward at all times while the bus is in motion, as this reduces the risk of injury during sudden stops or turns.

Additionally, children should be taught to remain seated and face forward throughout the bus ride, as moving around can distract the driver and pose dangers; understanding and respecting the role of school bus drivers in ensuring everyone's safety is also key to encouraging appropriate behavior and adherence to bus rules.

5. Exiting the Bus

When exiting the school bus, it’s important for kids to wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before getting up from their seats and to be vigilant in looking for cars before stepping off. School bus drivers play a vital role in the safety of unloading children, but kids also need to take responsibility for their own safety. Children should be taught to wait until the bus's red lights stop flashing and the stop sign arm is retracted to signal that it's safe to exit and cross the road.

Make sure your child knows never to cross behind the bus where visibility is limited, and if they need to cross the street, they should do so in front of the bus where the driver can see them, ensuring they are safely out of the path of any oncoming traffic.

6. Crossing the Road

Knowing when and how to cross the road is an important part of school bus safety. If your child needs to cross the street, instruct them to take five giant steps away from the front of the school bus. This distance ensures they are well out of the danger zone and in a position where the bus driver can clearly see them.

Teach your child to make eye contact with the bus driver, as this non-verbal communication is a key part of ensuring it's safe to proceed. They should only start crossing when the driver indicates it's safe to do so.

7. Communicating With The Bus Driver

Encourage your child to communicate with the bus driver if they feel unsafe or have concerns during their bus ride. Teaching them to speak up and tell the bus driver their concerns is the first and most important step in addressing these issues. Open communication not only helps resolve immediate concerns but also fosters a sense of trust and safety, making the school bus a more secure environment for all students.

8. Emergency Procedures

School districts typically have established emergency procedures for situations that might arise while students are on school buses. It's important for your child to be familiar with these procedures, as this knowledge can be crucial in ensuring their safety during unexpected situations. Make sure your child understands how to use the emergency exits and follows the guidelines set by the school district for various types of emergencies.

If your child has a smartwatch with GPS tracking capabilities like the Cosmo JrTrack 3 with SafeZones, you can receive a notification when they arrive at school each day. The watch also has SOS calling capabilities in the case of an emergency.

9. Reporting Safety Concerns

Teach your child to be proactive in reporting safety concerns. If they notice any issues, such as aggressive driving behaviors near school buses or inappropriate behavior by other children on the school bus, it's important that they know to report these concerns to you or a teacher. This not only helps address potential safety hazards promptly but also fosters a culture of safety and responsibility among students. Encouraging open communication about safety concerns ensures that necessary actions can be taken to maintain a secure environment for all children on the bus.

Stay Connected With Your Child During Their School Commute

The Cosmo Smartwatch is a great tool for staying connected with your child during their school commute, offering features such as calling, texting, and voice messaging within a family-safe network. Its GPS tracking & SafeZones capabilities allow you always to know your child's location, providing you with peace of mind about their safety and whereabouts. The watch is designed to be distraction-free, with no social media or open internet, making it perfect for use in school zones and on buses.

Are School Buses Safe?

Image credit: American School Bus Council

School buses are recognized as one of the safest forms of school transportation vehicles, thanks to their unique design and specialized safety features. Here's a quick look at some key features that contribute to their safety:

  • Extended Stop Arms: These stop sign arms signal other drivers to stop, providing a safer environment for children to enter or exit the bus.
  • Flashing Lights: Yellow flashing lights signal that drivers should slow down and prepare to stop. Red lights flashing indicate to drivers that the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off the bus.
  • Energy Absorbing Seat Backs: Designed to absorb impact and reduce the risk of injury during accidents.
  • Closely Spaced Seats: This design creates a protective barrier for children in the event of a crash.
  • Stop Arm Cameras: Help enforce traffic laws and capture evidence if other drivers illegally pass the stopped school bus.

Compared to passenger vehicles, these features make school buses some of the safest vehicles on the road, ensuring the well-being of children during their daily commute.

Why don't school buses have seat belts?

Typically, school buses don't have seat belts because they are designed with a safety concept called compartmentalization, which provides protection through closely spaced, high-backed seats. Additionally, there are concerns that seat belts could hinder quick evacuation in emergencies.

What do the different flashing lights mean?

  • Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is preparing to stop and unload children.
  • Flashing red lights mean the bus is stopped, and children are getting on or off.

Remember to Review School Bus Safety Often

Ensuring your child understands and follows these school bus safety tips is key to a safe and worry-free school commute. Remember to review these safety tips frequently throughout the school year to keep them fresh in your child's mind.

With the help of tools like the Cosmo Smartwatch, you can add an extra layer of safety and stay connected with your child, giving you peace of mind while they are on the go. Remember, safety in and around school buses is a combined effort of parents, students, and school districts, and by working together, we can protect children and prevent school transportation-related crashes.

Looking for more information on regulations for school transportation vehicles? Check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website on school bus laws.