Back to school means the wheels on 480, 000 school buses across the US start to go round and round. The design of school buses have not changed since 1977 and they are the only vehicles that may be painted that distinctive color. Half of all school students ride a bus to school. That means 17.3 million car trips are not made each year, saving 2.3 billion gallons of fuel that would cost US families a total of $6 billion.* Here’s to Jane, Helen and Debbie – friends of mine who are just three of the faithful and unsung drivers transporting our kids to school each year. And here’s a few tips to make this school year a safe year!
For everyone —
☼ Pay attention to school schedules, even if you don’t have children in your home. Slow down and be alert for children walking to or waiting at a bus stop in residential areas or school zones!
☼ When exiting your garage or drive, look just once more during times a school bus might be in your neighborhood.
For parents –
♥ Find your child’s bus stop before school starts. Familiarize yourself with your school’s rules. If you don’t have the information, call the school office and ask.
♥ Walk to the bus stop with your child, several times if necessary to be sure they know the way. Show them where to cross the street at the corners. Point out landmarks along the route and around the stop itself.
♥ Show your child where to wait safely, especially the boundary they should not cross until the bus comes to a complete stop – at least four feet from the curb. Emphasize being in the street is never okay and once they spot the bus, they are to immediately move to the boarding spot and stay put.
♥ Let kids experience the routine from the first morning to become acquainted with the route, the driver and the other kids while everyone is learning and settling into routine at the same time. Driving kids to school at first puts them at a disadvantage when they do begin to ride because everyone else has their seatmate, knows where to stash backpacks and all the other little details.
For kids –
☺ Leave the house with time to spare so you don’t have to rush (and maybe forget to be safe!)
☺ Stay 3 giant steps away from the curb when the bus is coming and wait until the driver says it is okay before boarding.
☺ Stay in your seat and keep your hands to yourself.
☺ Talking and laughing are okay. Screaming is not.
☺ Everything that goes on the bus must remain on the bus until the driver stops and says it is okay to get off. (Nothing out the window – ever!)
☺ If you drop something by the bus, tell the driver and let them help you pick it up. They may not see you if you bend over.
* According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
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