Did you know that there are approximately 474,000 school buses transporting some 25 million children to and from school every day in this country?  National School Bus Safety Week, began October 18th and goes through October 22nd.    This observance is sponsored by: National Association for Pupil Transportation, National School Transportation Association, National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation, National Safety Council, and School Bus Manufacturers and Suppliers. Their goal is to educate students and the public about school bus safety.  Students may enter a national poster contest, with the winning poster being distributed throughout the United States. 

School buses are among the safest transportation we have, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, who also reports that those riding buses are 8 times safer than ones riding with parents or peers.  Statistics show that around six children die per year as passengers on school buses; however, fatalities have more often occurred from pedestrian accidents involving motorists who illegally pass school buses, failing to see children.  When a school bus is stopped, flashing lights on the bus warn drivers to stop, in order to allow children to safely board and get off the bus.  Motorists should be vigilant when sharing the road with the big yellow buses. 

School bus drivers have to have nerves of steel!  (I’m talking from my experiences, such as band trips, etc.)  Kids can get rowdy on school buses, and drivers should have rules (short and simple), that their young passengers follow.   It is helpful when bus drivers get to know their kids and are a positive role model.  Parents should expect their students to show respect to their driver, who plays this very important role in getting them safely to school and back home. 

Here are some safety reminders for parents and students from The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration: 

  • Parents should be sure that their children get to the bus stop on time.
  • Students should stand back several feet from the edge of the road until the bus comes to a complete stop.
  • If a student drops an object near the bus, he/she should ask the driver for help.  The driver may not be able to see when a child bends over to pick something up.  The best solution is to have all their things secure in a backpack or bag.
  • Be sure clothing or backpacks have no loose drawstrings that could get caught in the bus door.
  • Understand that the danger zone is the area 10′ around the school bus.
  • Ask school officials or transportation authorities to change the location of a bus stop if it is not in a safe place.
  • Students should cross the street in view of the driver: “Cross in View – It’s the Thing to Do.” 

Those big yellow buses not only transport our kids to school every day, but also take them on field trips, to sports events, and many other extracurricular activities.  Their passengers are our future; we must obey the laws that protect the lives of our children and their caregivers – the drivers.