(Family Features) Although a great deal of attention focuses on safety at school, for millions of kids the school day starts on the bus. More than half of America’s school children ride the bus, according to the National Association of Pupil Transportation, and school buses are the safest form of transportation to and from school.
Still, there are steps you can take as a parent to make the experience even safer. NAPT offers these tips to help teach your child to be safe at the bus stop and as they get on and off the bus.
Getting ready for school
• Have your children put everything they carry in a backpack or school bag so that they won’t drop things along the way.
• Encourage them to wear bright, contrasting colors so they will be more easily seen by drivers.
• Make sure children leave home on time so they can arrive at the bus stop before it is due, ideally at least five minutes early. Running after or in front of a bus is dangerous.
Walking to the bus stop
• Walk young children to the bus stop or encourage children to walk in groups. There is safety in numbers; groups are easier for drivers to see.
• Practice good pedestrian behavior: walk on the sidewalk, and if there is no sidewalk stay out of the street. If you must walk in the street, walk single-file, face traffic and stay as close to the edge of the road as you can.
• Stop and look left, right and then left again anytime you must cross a street. Do the same thing at driveways and alleys. Exaggerate your head turns and narrate your actions so your child knows you are looking left, right and left.
At the bus stop
• Have children wait in a location where the driver can see them while driving down the street. Never wait in a house or car.
• Do not let children play in the street. Playing with balls or other toys that could roll into the street is also dangerous.
Getting on and off the bus
• Warn children that if they drop something getting on and off the bus, they should never pick it up. Instead, they should tell the driver and follow the driver’s instructions.
• Remind children to look to the right before they step off the bus.
• If you meet your child at the bus stop after school, wait on the side where the child will be dropped off, not across the street. Children can be so excited to see you after school that they dash across the street and forget the safety rules.
Cell phones and other electronic devices are often permitted on the school bus as long as:
• They are in backpacks or other holders, keeping hands free to use handrails while boarding and departing the bus.
• Sound is muted or headphones, ear buds or similar devices are used.
• Content does not violate the law or school district policy and procedures.
• Use does not create a distraction for the driver.