Statistics show that pedestrian injury is the second-leading cause of accidental injury-related deaths among children between the ages of 5 and 14 in the U.S. This means that risks can occur when your child is walking to school, walking around your neighborhood, or waiting for the bus.
School bus safety is critical for parents and children to be aware of, and sometimes parents overestimate their children’s understanding of safety precautions.
According to the National Highway Safety and Transportation Association (NHTSA), students are around 70 times more likely to get to school safety in a bus as opposed to a car, so it’s not necessarily the bus itself parents should be most concerned about. It’s waiting for it.
There are risks not only as your child is actually at the bus stop, but while they’re walking to the stop as well.
The following are important school bus stop safety tips you should know as a parent so you can then make sure you go over them with your child.
Getting Ready for School
Bus stop safety starts before your child ever walks out the door. Your child should put everything they take to school with them in a single backpack or school bag. This prevents the risk of dropping items, and if a child drops something and bends down to pick it up, a driver might not see them.
Encourage your kid to wear bright colors and make sure your child has plenty of time to get ready and get to the stop so they aren’t rushing. It’s best to be at least five minutes early to the bus stop every day.
Walking to the Bus Stop
If your child is young, you should walk with them to the bus stop, and you should encourage a child of any age to walk in a group whenever possible. It’s much easier for a driver to see a group of children compared to one child walking alone.
Pedestrian safety tips to go over with your child as they’re walking to the bus include staying on the sidewalk and if that’s not an option, staying out of the street. Kids should face traffic and stay as close to the edge of the road as is possible.
Designate a place for your kids to wait where the bus driver can clearly see them.
When your child gets to the stop, they should take at least five giant steps away from the road. The goal should always be at least six feet between a child and the roadway.
Getting On and Off the Bus
If your kids drop something when they get on or off the bus, they shouldn’t ever pick it up. They should let their driver know and then do what the driver says.
Children should look to the right before getting off the bus, and if you wait for them at the bus stop in the afternoons, wait on the side the bus stops rather than across the street. A child might be excited and run across the street to get to you.
Teach your children to use the handrail when they exit the bus, and if they do have to cross the bus after getting off, they should walk at least 10 feet ahead until the driver is visible to them, and they are visible to the driver. The driver will then signal to let them know they can cross.
You may think your child’s bus stop is in a location that’s too dangerous. You can speak to the school office to see about changing it.
A few other tips to teach your child regarding bus stop and bus safety in general include:
- Make sure your child understands the importance of always listening to the driver. Your child should feel comfortable with their driver and going to them and asking questions or voicing concerns if necessary.
- Your child should always watch the wheels of the bus if they drop something.
- There are also risks that can come from strangers approaching children at bus stops, so this is another important area of safety to discuss. Kids should always know how to handle a situation if someone they don’t know tries to engage with them at a bus stop or otherwise.
Bus stop safety is so important, and that importance can never be overstated, so ensure it’s something you talk with your children about regularly. If possible to have parents from the neighborhood take turns waiting with the kids, that can be best as well.