Image from the National Association for Pupil Transportation: Drawn by Aumkar Patel, a 5th Grader at Henry County Schools in McDonough, GA.
Can you guess what the largest system of mass transportation is in the U.S.? The school bus! There are over 480,000 buses used in the country to transport students to and from school and extracurricular activities. According to the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), over 25 million students and parents utilize the school bus system. Believe it or not, that is more than people who travel by other forms of public transportation including planes, trains, and the subway. Next week celebrates National School Bus Safety Week to bring awareness to all stakeholders on the importance of safety in and around the school bus.
The NAPT offers these tips to keep students safe around school busses:
Getting Ready for School
Walking to the Bus Stop
- Have your children put everything they carry in a backpack or school bag so that they won’t drop things along the way.
- Encourage them to wear bright, contrasting colors so they will be more easily seen by drivers.
- Make sure children leave home on time so they can arrive at the bus stop before it is due, Ideally at least five minutes early. Running after or in front of a bus is dangerous.
At the Bus Stop
- Walk young children to the bus stop or encourage children to walk in groups. There is safety in numbers; groups are easier for drivers to see.
- Practice good pedestrian behavior: walk on the sidewalk, and if there is no sidewalk stay out of the street. If you must walk in the street, walk single file, face traffic and stay as close to the edge of the road as you can.
- Stop and look left, right and then left again if you must cross the street. Do the same thing at drive -ways and alleys. Exaggerate your head turns and narrate your actions so your child knows you are looking left, right and left.
Getting On and Off the Bus
- Have children wait in a location where the driver can see them while driving down the street. Try to avoid waiting in a house or car.
- Do not let children play in the street. Playing with balls or other toys that could roll into the street is also dangerous.
Mobile Devices - Cell phones and other electronic devices are often permitted on the school bus as long as:
- Warn children that if they drop something getting on and off the bus, they should never pick it up. Instead, they should tell the driver and follow the driver’s instructions.
- Remind children to look to the right before they step off the bus.
- If you meet your child at the bus stop after school, wait on the side where the child will be dropped off, not across the street. Children can be so excited to see you after school that they dash across the street and forget the safety rules.
- They are in backpacks or other holders, keeping hands free to use handrails while boarding and departing the bus.
- Sound is muted or headphones, ear buds or similar devices are used.
- Content does not violate the law or school district policy and procedures.
- Use does not create a distraction for the driver.
For motorists, it is important to remember to never past a bus if it is stopped to load or unload students! Also, stay alert for children around the bus, they can often ignore warnings and traffic around the bus. We are all responsible in helping to create a safe environment for students in our area. Slow down, stay off your cell phone, and be safe.
One Team. One Vision. One Goal. – Everyone Goes Home Safe!