Today National School Bus Safety Week begins, ending October 26th.  There are approximately 474,000 school buses transporting around 25 million children, covering roughly 41 million miles, to and from school every day in this country.   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.  This year’s theme is “I See the Driver – The Driver Sees Me!” 

School buses are among the safest transportation we have.  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.  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 try to be 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.  School bus riders were recently caught bullying a lady that accompanied the bus every day, until one child filmed the event on his cell phone.  There is no excuse for this behavior, on a bus or anywhere else. 

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 something 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.
  • 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”, a previous year’s theme. 

Our big yellow buses not only transport the 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.