As child safety advocates, we often get asked why the majority of school buses don’t have seat belts.
While carpooling is a common practice in many communities, a school bus is the safest way for children to get to school. Fatal crashes involving school bus occupants are extremely rare events, even though school buses serve children daily in nearly every community.
Getting to and from the bus is actually more dangerous than riding the bus itself. In 2007, 26 children were killed as pedestrians getting on or off a school bus, or while waiting at the school bus stop in the United States. This means that five times as many children were killed while getting on or off the bus than while riding it. Oct. 19 to 23, 2009, is National School Bus Safety Week, making it a good time to teach children how to stay safer around school busses.
Here are some tips to share with your children to make sure their bus ride is as safe as possible:
- Arrive at the bus stop five minutes early.
- Stay in a safe place away from the street while waiting for the bus.
- Stand at least 5 giant steps (10 feet) away from the edge of the road.
- Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says it is okay before moving towards the bus.
- Have your parents help you check that your clothing does not have drawstrings and that your book bag does not have straps or dangling objects. They can get caught in the door when exiting the bus.
- If something falls under or near the bus, tell the driver. Never try to pick it up yourself!
- When you get on or off the bus, look for the bus safety lights and make sure they are flashing. Tell the driver if they are not.
- Be alert to traffic. When you get on or off the bus, look left, right, and left again before you enter or cross the street.
- Stay in your seat and sit quietly on the bus so that the driver is not distracted.
- Some school buses now have seat belts. If you have seat belts on your school bus, be sure to learn to use the seat belt correctly on every ride.
In Ohio, it is against the law to pass a stopped school bus or approach within 10 feet, and motorists should never pass a school bus with its lights flashing. National School Bus Safety Week is held every year in the third week of October and led by the National Association for Pupil Transportation.