As students head back to school this month, there will be an influx of bright yellow school buses on the roads.
This is a great reminder that it is important to keep children safe while traveling to and from the bus stop, and while getting on and off the bus.
“School buses remain the safest way to transport students to and from school, but keeping our kids safe when getting on and off the bus is everyone’s responsibility,” said Keith Dreiling, state director of the School Bus Safety Unit. “Parents must review safety tips with their kids, bus drivers must follow protocol, and the motoring public must stop for school buses displaying flashing red lights and stop arms.”
Yellow flashing lights on a school bus indicate the bus is preparing to stop, and red flashing lights signify vehicles must come to a complete stop on both sides of the street so children can cross safely to the bus.
In April, 2,163 Kansas school bus drivers reported nearly 1,000 instances in a single day of motorists illegally passing a school bus. Motorists, students and their parents must remain vigilant, particularly before and after school, when children are walking to bus stops or boarding and exiting buses.
There are 480,000 school buses on the road across the United States that provide public transportation for 26 million students every day. In Kansas, 4,246 school bus drivers transported 227,778 students more than 69 million miles during the 2014-15 school year, Dreiling said.
Parents are encouraged to speak with their children about school bus safety. The following tips can help to facilitate that conversation:
- Stay alert. Don’t listen to music, text or play games on a mobile device while walking to the bus stop.
- Follow traffic signals and laws. Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Never run into the street or cross between parked cars.
- Leave early. Be at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. Early arrival prevents children from running across a street to catch the bus as it pulls away from the stop.
- Stand back. When the bus approaches, stand at least five big steps away from the curb and line up away from the street. Avoid the driver’s blind spot.
- Stand still. Wait until the bus completely stops, the door opens and the driver says it is okay before entering the bus. Do the same for exiting the bus. Be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps don’t get caught in handrails or doors.
- Never walk behind the bus. Children should walk where the driver can see the child and the child can see the driver. Walk at least 10 big steps in front of the bus.
- Watch for motorists. Even though motorists are required to stop when a bus is making pickups or drop-offs, make sure children look both ways before crossing the street.