It’s the start of the new school year and for most kids and parents, it’s an exciting time!  It’s about reuniting with friends, meeting the teacher, and shopping for school supplies.  For nearly 23 million children, it also means riding the bus.  According to NHTSA, school buses are one of the safest forms of transportation in the U.S.  Nonetheless, there are several things we can teach our kids that will ensure safe travel to and from school.  Here are a few school bus safety tips.

The Bus Stop

  • Leave plenty of time to get to the bus stop.  Don’t run, and stay on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left, facing traffic.  Plan to arrive 5 minutes before your designated pick time.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings.  Don’t be distracted by using handheld games or listening to music on headphones.
  • Once at the bus stop, stay a safe distance from the street.  No running or playing around.
  • Do not talk to any strangers or get in their car.  Immediately alert a parent or a known adult if a stranger tries to talk to you or tries to pick you up.
  • Wait for the bus to arrive and the stop sign to be extended.  Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop and the driver tells you it is safe to get on board.
  • Always remain 10 steps away from the bus where the driver can see you.  Never go behind the bus.
  • Keep all of your loose items in your backpack.  Ask the driver for help if you drop something.

 On the Bus

  • Once on the bus, go directly to your seat and sit facing forward.  Always remain seated when the bus is moving.
  • Do not stick your head or hands out the bus window.  Never throw anything out of the bus.
  • Talk quietly and always respect the bus driver.  Follow all of their instructions.
  • Keep the aisles and emergency exits clear.  Keep your backpack on your lap.

Exiting The Bus

  • Only get off on your designated stop.  Do not go home with friends unless it has been prearranged with your parents and the school.
  • When you exit the bus take 5 giant steps (10 feet) away from the bus.  Stay away from the bus and look for cars.
  • If you drop something, alert the bus driver before trying to retrieve it.  If you forget something on the bus, do not attempt to go back to the bus as the driver may not see you and the bus may start moving.
  • Always cross the street in front of the bus.  Never go behind it.

For Parents

  • Whenever possible, walk your child to and from the bus stop.  Wait for the child to be safely on the bus before leaving.
  • Introduce yourself and your child to the bus driver.  Schools usually provide plenty of assistance at the beginning of the year to make sure kids get on the correct bus after school, but knowing the bus driver will help reassure your child that they are on the right bus.
  • Report any concerns about the safety of the operator or the bus to school officials.

Looking for a fun way to teach your kids about school bus safety?  Check out the Pennsylvania DOT activity booklet that includes crossword puzzles, coloring pages and word searches to reinforce the safety message.

Riding the bus can be fun, but for young children, it can be a little scary until you get in a routine.

The buses for elementary and middle school run close together in my neighborhood.  Years ago on the second day of school, I put my son on the bus in the morning, only to get a call a half hour later from the school letting me know that he had boarded the middle school bus and not the one that would take him to the elementary school.  He was a big 4th grader so the bus driver didn’t notice.  My son laughs about it today, but back then it left us both a bit shaken.  After that we were much more diligent about identifying both the driver and the bus number.

About the Author, Marcia Ensley