School buses are safe modes of transportation for children. Statistics from Transport Canada indicate that transportation by school bus is safer than by passenger car. School buses are large and heavy vehicles that protect riders during collisions. School buses also help keep a greater number of passenger vehicles off of the roads during high-traffic school times.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that each year approximately 450,000 public school buses transport 23.5 million children to and from school and school-related activities around the United States. Although safety is enforced while students are on the bus, it is also vital for students to remain safe before they board. Ensuring a safe bus stop requires diligence.
• Safety starts with students and parents. Students are under the authority of the bus driver while they are on the bus. But before they board the bus, students typically are not supervised. Chaperoned bus stops can help deter rowdy actions, particularly at crowded bus stops. Parents can rotate standing watch and keeping tabs on bus stop behavior.
• Arrive early at the bus stop. Accidents can happen when people are rushing and not paying attention. NHTSA advises getting to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
• Stand at a safe distance. Children should remain no less than six feet away from the curb or roadway while waiting for the bus to arrive. Parents should routinely remind students not to run and play at the bus stop.
• Lobby for safe bus stop locations. District transportation directors are often tasked with choosing school bus stop locations based on local policies and attendance. Only basic requirements may be addressed, such as distance between stops. Parents and community members might be able to offer feedback regarding roads with low traffic volume and spots that offer maximum visibility during all seasons.
• Minimize street crossings. Parents can drop children off on the side of the road where the bus will stop so the kids do not have to cross roadways unattended.
• Use traffic assistance whenever possible. Children who walk to bus stops are urged to walk in crosswalks and on sidewalks and obey traffic controls. Parents can work with their children to find the safest routes to the bus stop, such as on residential streets rather than high-traffic roadways.
• Familiarize yourself with the route to the bus stop. Parents are urged to research the area and know where potential hazards on the route to the bus stop may lie. This includes potential human hazards. According to BusBoss, a school bus routing and tracking company, it's important for parents to know where registered sex offenders live and ensure kids avoid these homes on the way to the bus stop. Other hazardous areas include spots where drug activity or other illegal behavior occurs.
• Drive cautiously during school hours. Drivers should exercise extra caution and reduce speeds when schools are opening and closing. There will be lots of students on the roads between 8 and 9 a.m. and again between 2 and 4 p.m.
Maintaining school bus safety is of the utmost importance. Students, parents and the school district can work together to make security a priority.