Safe Kids Kansas provides tips to keep kids safer for National School Bus Safety Week
• Special to the Daily Leader
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 the United States, 26 children were killed as pedestrians getting on or off a school bus, or while waiting at the school bus stop in 2007. This means that five times as many children were killed while getting on or off the bus than while riding it.
Oct. 18 to 22 is National School Bus Safety Week – making it a good time to teach children how to stay safer around school buses.
“Remind your children of the 10-foot danger zone around the school bus where the driver can’t see them,” Cherie Sage, State Director of Safe Kids Kansas, said. “To be sure the bus driver can see them – young children should take at least five giant steps away from the bus while entering or exiting the bus. Older kids who must cross the street should look at the bus driver for an ‘OK’ sign before crossing in front of the bus.”
Kids should stand on the grass or sidewalk while waiting for the bus and not enter the street until the driver has opened the door of the bus.
“Kids tend to run toward the bus and assume that drivers will see them and wait for them to cross the street. Remind your child to stay within the bus driver’s sight,” Sage said.
Ten school bus safety tips that all children should know:
o Arrive at the bus stop five minutes early.
o Stay in a safe place away from the street while waiting for the bus.
o Stand at least five giant steps (10 feet) away from the edge of the road.
o Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says it is OK before moving toward the bus.
o Be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps or dangling objects do not get caught in the handrail or door when exiting the bus.
o If something falls under or near the bus, tell the driver. Never try to pick it up yourself! If you see something under or near the bus, such as an animal, be sure to alert the driver.
o 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.
o 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.
o Stay in your seat and sit quietly on the bus so that the driver is not distracted.
o 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.
“School buses are, by far, the safest way for kids of all ages to get to and from school,” Sage added. “It would be ideal if children did not have to cross a busy street unattended to get to their bus stop. However, regardless of their bus stop location - all kids should stand on the grass or sidewalk while waiting for the bus. Kids should not move towards the bus until the driver has opened the door of the bus and signaled it is OK to enter.”
National School Bus Safety Week is held every year in the third week of October and led by the National Association for Pupil Transportation. Visit www.napt.org for more details. To learn more about pedestrian safety and child passenger safety, visit www.safekids.org.