Fall in New England not only brings brightly colored leaves and crisp weather, but also the rumblings of yellow school buses. For many children, taking the school bus is a right of passage. For their parents, it can be a cause of great worry.
Thankfully, according to national and state statistics, school bus transportation is extremely safe. In Massachusetts, during the 2000-01 school year, 8,500 school buses were on the road, moving more than 633,000 students. During that year, and many others, there were no fatalities.
However, to prevent crashes or other problems, many parents should address bus safety with their children.
Check out some of these organizations:
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov
- The School Transportation Association of Massachusetts, http://www.schoolbus.org/index.htm.
Both websites outline basic school bus safety information for every parent and child. Some of the more important tips they suggest are included below:
- When the bus approaches, stand at least three giant steps (6 feet) away from the curb, and line up away from the street.
- Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it's okay before stepping onto the bus.
- If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus before you cross.
- Never walk behind the bus.
- If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.
The driver's job is to focus on driving, not resolving discipline problems. So, when on the bus:
- Always sit fully in the seat and face forward
- Do not distract the driver
- Never stand on a moving bus
- Never stick anything out the window — that includes arms, legs, head, bookbags.
By teaching our children the rules of the school bus, parents can take comfort that their children will be prepared for their trip to and from school.