The school bus is considered to be the safest mode of transportation for children. The safety features of a school bus are designed to protect its passengers in case of an accident. Lap belts and compartmentalization is required on all school buses. Compartmentalization requires each student to have an allocated lap belt and to be seated in a thickly-padded bench seat, spaced closely, with high backs to further protect the occupant during accident or collision.
While a few states require a lap belt only, most states wanted more safety features for their school buses. The National Conference of State Legislatures, in an article on bus safety says that Texas required as of 2010 all new school buses to have lap and shoulder restraints. Although in some cases, school principals are given the option to decide which type of restraint they will require on their school buses.
The Utah Department of Public Safety stated that the greatest risk for students is when approaching or leaving the bus, not while riding the bus. For this reason, it is recommended that parents and children know bus safety before taking the bus.
Here are some tips from Utah Department of Public Safety:
- Parents should walk with the child to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
- When the bus approaches, instruct the child to stand at least five giant steps (10 feet) away from the curb.
- Tell the child to wait until the bus stops, the door opens and the driver says that it’s okay before getting on the bus.
- Let the school bus (with the child safely inside) leave first before leaving the bus stop.
- If the child has to cross the street in front of the bus, instruct the child to walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road until he/she is at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus before he/she crosses the street.
- Tell your child to never walk behind the bus.
- Tell the child to make sure that the bus driver can see him/her and that the child can also see the driver when walking in front of the bus.
- Always remind your child to use the handrail to avoid falls. Instruct the child to be careful with loose clothing and backpacks so they don’t get caught in the handrails or doors.
- Always tell the child to put loose papers and items inside their backpack. This is to avoid dropping things that might put the child at risk for an accident.
- Instruct the child to tell the bus driver in case he/she dropped something near the bus. The child should never pick it up without the bus driver’s knowledge.
- Instruct the child to go directly to his/her seat facing forward and wear the seat belt.
- Tell the child that once the bus arrives at the school, to go directly to the school building and to not play near the buses.
- Lastly, tell the child to respect and obey the rules inside the school bus. Instruct the child to be courteous to everyone and behave accordingly. He/she should follow the line, no pushing and rushing to get up and down the bus.
Go over the school bus safety measures with your children. Make sure that they understand and practice each measure and can demonstrate them to you.
In addition, parents who are going to visit the school should be extra cautious with going in and out of the school parking lot. Go around the car before backing out to check for children. Always be on the lookout for running children. Obey the speed limit and only park your car in designated spaces.
Practicing these safety measures can go a long way in protecting your child when followed correctly and consistently. It is very important that the child understands the need for these safety measures and uses them every time he/she rides the school bus.
Along with students and parents of school-age children needing to be safe while in and around school buses, motorists maneuvering around school buses while on the roadways should be informed of the rules and why school buses are important for the transport of children. Below is a graphic listing some interesting statistics on how school buses impact our economy, our environment, and the lives of many children across the country. In addition to these statistics, the graphic below demonstrates when motorists are required to stop on the different types of roadways which school buses travel. Motorists can often be confused when they are required to stop, being familiar with the different times that you are required to do so can improve school bus safety overall and save more lives.
For more information on children accidents, click here.