Back to school means back to the school bus. While buses can be a very safe and environmentally-friendly way of ferrying children back and forth to school, school bus accidents, when they do happen, can be devastating. School bus accidents can cause brain injuries, broken bones, fatalities, and other serious personal injuries.
Parents can help prevent school bus accidents by teaching their children school bus safety. Teach your child to wait for the bus safely, for example. This means waiting for the bus away from the street and away from traffic. Teach your child to wait until the bus stops completely before approaching the bus. Teach your child to wait until the bus driver makes contact.
Many school bus accidents are in fact pedestrian accidents which occur when children are getting on or off the school bus. Therefore, teach your children to keep a safe distance from the bus when getting off the bus. Show children how to take five large steps and look back to ensure that the driver can be seen. Many children do not understand that drivers have blind spots, so ensure that your child understands this concept. Teach your children to look left and right before proceeding across a street after their hop off the bus. For younger children, accompany them to and from the bus and review these safety ideas until they become second nature.
In addition to teaching children how to ride the school bus safely, there are several things that parents can do to help keep their children safe on the school bus. Supervision is one of the most important factors to preventing school bus accidents. Supervision ensures that no child runs behind a bus, into traffic, or into a driver’s blind spots. Younger children, especially, need supervision to ensure that they don’t run into the street while playing. If you cannot supervise your child to and from the school bus each day, have an older sibling do this or organize a group of parents who can take turns watching the school bus stop.
In addition to supervising, parents can ensure that their children are safe when heading to the bus stop. Ensure that all your child’s possessions are securely stored in a backpack. If your child loses a paper, he or she may bend down to pick it up near the bus and this may prevent the driver from seeing your child. If your child is carrying items loosely and an item is carried away by the wind, he or she may chase after it into traffic. In addition to keeping all items in a backpack, ensure that your child doesn’t war anything with long straps or drawstrings that can get caught in the school bus door.
If you notice anything dangerous about a bus driver or a bus stop, talk to your school’s transportation director, school office, or school district. If the school bus stop is in a busy area, for example, you can request to have the stop moved to a safer and quieter location so that all the children will be safer.