Each day, more than 25 million children line up to board those big yellow buses bound for school, sporting events or field trips.
The good news? Buses are the safest form of transportation on the road, even safer than the family car, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which reports just one school bus accident per 500 million road miles driven.
Even so, an average of 21 children die in bus-related accidents annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Most accidents happen before the child is aboard the bus, inside the 10-foot “danger zone” surrounding the vehicle, which includes blind spots to the driver.
Parents can promote bus stop safety by making sure their children follow these simple rules compiled by former bus drivers for the National Association for Pupil Transportation:
Before boarding, a child should:
- Arrive at the bus stop five minutes early. Rushing often leads to carelessness.
- Wear bright colors or put reflective tape on backpacks to increase visibility.
- Take five giant steps back from the curb, which is in the driver’s line of vision.
- Pack all belongings in appropriate bags so hands are free to grab the safety rail.
- Make sure clothes and backpacks don’t have hanging straps or strings that may become snagged in the vehicle.
- Wait until the bus stops completely before approaching the vehicle.
- Avoid pushing or roughhousing while waiting or boarding.
When leaving the bus, a child should:
- Cross in front of the bus, never behind it.
- Take five giant steps away from the bus before continuing home.
- Be alert to traffic, looking left, right and left again before crossing the street.
Parents can help by taking turns monitoring the bus stop. It’s one way to ensure the “wheels on the bus go round and round”—safely.