How Safe Are Our Kids Getting ON and OFF The School Bus

Aug 20, 2019 by

Riding the school bus offers kids an exciting taste of freedom. But, for parents, sending their children off to school bus can feel like a daunting ordeal.

To this day, school buses remain one of the safest modes of transportation for students. According to the American School Bus Council, students are​ ​70 times​ more likely to arrive at school safely in a school bus rather than a car. While this fact should be comforting, there are still some factors to weigh up when considering your kids’ safety on the bus.

According to this​ ​bus safety guide​, most accidents involving school buses occur at the beginning (September) and end (June) of the school year. Therefore, with the new year just around the corner, here are 5 things to remember when considering your kids’ safety on and off the bus.

1, The Danger-zone

The area directly 10 feet in front and 10 feet behind the school bus is the most dangerous for children. These zones are especially dangerous as the bus driver would have trouble noticing or seeing anyone standing within there. This means that anyone who was inside these zones would be at risk perhaps without even knowing. As parents, it’s important to inform your children about these ‘danger-zones’, teaching them that they should take 5 giant steps away when crossing paths with or exiting the bus.

2. School Bus Drivers Are Trained Professionals

Before a bus driver can step foot inside a school bus, they must obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) with a​ ​School Bus Endorsement​. This endorsement ensures that school bus drivers receive specialized training in student behavior management as well as emergency procedures. Essentially, these endorsements give you peace of mind that all bus drivers are equipped with the knowledge to perform safety maneuverers and ensure that children remain secure and protected at all times.

Not only this, but the screening process for a school bus driver is highly extensive. As a requirement, drivers participate in pre-employment and randomized drug/alcohol testing, as well as frequent driving record checks to maintain their endorsement. Furthermore, the school bus industry operates safety, security, health and driver qualification guidelines to ensure that school buses remain the safest forms of transport for students.

The high level of training and screening should offer parents some assurance that their children are in great hands.

3. Younger Children Are At Greater Risk

When it comes to riding the bus, children under 10 are at greatest risk. At least​ ​50%​ of those killed in school vehicle-related incidents are aged between 5 and 7 years old. There are a number of reasons why this may be the case. Young children are more likely to act impulsively and are generally unable to handle unpredicted dangers. As well as this, their smaller size can mean there’s a good chance that drivers won’t see them if they unexpectedly cross paths with the bus.

To prevent the chance of a dangerous incident, an adult should accompany young children to and from the school bus stop. Also, when your child is waiting for the bus, ensure they stay at a healthy distance from the road to guarantee that the bus driver can see them.

4. Loose Clothes or Items Are A Potential Hazard

In 1995, the​ ​U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission​ developed guidelines with manufacturers to eliminate drawstrings from clothing. This guideline came after a series of strangulation cases associated with these strings. One cause of these deaths resulted from strings being caught on the handrails of school buses and eventually dragging the children under the wheels. As such, it’s essential that children are taught the importance of being mindful of their belongings when entering or exiting the bus. Otherwise, when preparing your kids for school, recognize the items that are potentially hazardous; for example, shoelaces, dangling backpack straps or long pant-legs.

5. Onboard Safety

Large buses are constructed in a way that seat belts are not necessary. This is because the seat compartments on school buses are designed to absorb the force of a crash and protect children from the impact. These seats are also positioned no further than 2 feet apart, which limits the distance a child can move during a crash.

To ensure the safest conditions for our children, parents should consider campaigning their school districts for adequate evacuation drills for children riding the bus if they are not already being carried out. The National Transportation Safety Board​ recommends that schools introduce a twice-yearly drill that reviews where emergency exits are and how to open them as well as other necessary safety features. These safety drills will not only help children familiarize themselves with proper safety procedures but also give parents a better peace of mind.

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