As the school year begins again, the American School Bus Council (ASBC) wants to draw parents’ attention to school bus safety. As the voice for the school bus industry, ASBC believes school bus safety is of paramount importance. The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences’ “Nationwide Safety Record” says that, of the 25 million children who do not ride the school buses to and from school each day, annually there are 448 child fatalities in passenger vehicles with a teenage driver, 169 child fatalities in passenger vehicles with an adult driver, 131 fatalities to pedestrians and 46 fatalities to bicyclists. For the 25 million children who do ride the bus, there were 5 passenger fatalities and 15 pedestrian fatalities at school bus stops.
In the United States today, approximately 475,000 school buses transport 25 million children to and from school each school day. That’s approximately 50 percent of America’s children. In communities across the country, school bus drivers have become trained professionals responsible for children’s safety. School bus drivers now receive specialized training in student behavior, loading and unloading passengers, security and emergency procedures. The school bus industry is mandated to abide by safety, security, health and driver qualification guidelines governed by both federal and state laws. School bus drivers are required to participate in pre-employment and random drug and alcohol testing, frequent driving record checks and background checks, and periodic medical exams in order to retain their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) with a School Bus endorsement.
To help keep school buses the safest mode of transportation for children to and from school, the ASBC offers the following safety tips for parents, family members, and caregivers to review and teach children who ride school buses:
- While waiting for the school bus, children should remain in a safe place away from the street.
- Make sure to teach children to be alert to traffic, checking both ways for cars before getting on or off the bus.
- Teach your child that before they leave the sidewalk they should look for the flashing red lights signifying that the bus has fully stopped.
- Tell children to make “eye contact” with the bus driver and wait for his or her signal before crossing the street.
- Teach children always to walk in front of the bus—never behind—when crossing the street.
- Teach children never to go near or under the bus to retrieve something they may have dropped.
- Always have young children ride the school bus to/from school, rather than riding with teenage drivers or passengers.
- Review the school bus safety tips with your children regularly.
- Get to know your school’s transportation coordinator and your children’s bus driver(s). They are trained professionals who see your children every day.
- By getting to know the parents of other riders, you can learn about the other children who ride the bus with your child, and possibly team with other parents to monitor bus stops and bus routes. You may even want to get a tour of your child’s bus, noting its safety features (some schools offer this on “Back-To-School Night”).
- Keep important phone numbers handy in case the bus may be delayed or in the event of emergency.