As we navigate this time of year and head back to school, it's essential to be mindful of the potential dangers around us, especially when it comes to safely getting children to and from school. Whether we're driving, walking, or taking the bus, there are certain precautions we can take to ensure our safety and the safety of those around us. In this article, we'll focus specifically on tips for parents, children, drivers, and pedestrians alike. We can all do our part to ensure everyone stays safe as we return to school.
Bus Stop Safety
Parents, it’s essential to talk to your child, or children, about bus stop safety.
Before the Bus Arrives
Ahead of the school year, visit the bus stop and show your child where to wait for the bus, at least ten feet — five giant steps — away from the curb. Remind your child that the bus stop is not a place to run or play.
Getting On and Off Safely
When the school bus arrives, your child should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop, the door opens, and the driver says it’s okay to get on or off. Your child should use the handrails to avoid falling.
Always Use Caution Around the Bus
Your child should never walk behind a school bus. If your child must cross the street in front of the bus, tell them to walk on a sidewalk or along the side of the road to a place at least ten feet — five giant steps — in front of the bus before crossing. Your child should also make eye contact with the bus driver before crossing to ensure the driver can see they’re crossing to avoid the danger zone. If your child drops something near the school bus, like a phone or book, the safest thing is to tell the bus driver immediately. Your child should not try to pick up the item because the driver might not be able to see them.
Stop for School Buses
Students returning to in-person learning may rely on school buses to safely get them to and from school.
Did You Know: School buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road; they’re designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries, and in every state, stop-arm laws exist to protect children from other motorists.
If you are driving, remember these simple rules:
- Yellow flashing lights on a school bus mean slow down - don’t speed up - because the bus is preparing to stop. Likely, students are waiting to get on the bus, or parents are waiting nearby to pick up their children.
- Red flashing lights mean stop - and wait at least 20 feet behind the bus - because children are getting on or off the school bus. Stay stopped until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving.
- Even when lights aren’t flashing, watch for children around school arrival and dismissal times, particularly in the morning or mid-afternoon. Be alert as you back out of a driveway or drive through a neighborhood, school zone, or bus stop.
Parents - talk bus safety with your children:
Your child should arrive at the bus stop at least 5 minutes before the bus arrives. Teach them to play it SAFE:
- Stay five steps away from the curb.
- Always wait until the bus comes to a complete stop and the bus driver signals for you to board.
- Face forward after finding a seat on the bus.
- Exit the bus after it stops and look left-right-left for cars before crossing a street.
Many people have turned to bicycle riding as a fun way to get out and exercise or have taught their children to ride a bike. Bicycles can also be an easy and quick way to travel to school. Be sure to do these simple things to keep your bike ride safe:
- Always wear a correctly fitted helmet, and securely fasten the chin strap.
- Ride in the same direction as traffic, and follow traffic signs and signals.
- Stay in the bike lane whenever possible.
- Never use electronics while riding – they are distracting.
You or your child will likely be a pedestrian at some point in the day. Remind them to:
- Use the sidewalk whenever possible; if there isn’t a sidewalk, walk on the edge of the street facing traffic.
- Whenever they are available, use marked crosswalks to cross the street, and look left-right-left for vehicles or bikes before crossing.
- Ensure you never play, push or shove others when walking around traffic.
- Everyone should watch the road, not their phones.
- If you are driving, especially in a neighborhood, look out for pedestrians at all times, everywhere. Foot traffic will likely increase as more families and children are at home.