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School Bus Safety Tips

school bus safetyReminder: Schools in DC are open!
Obey the School Zone speed limit of 15 mph when school is in session and children are present.

School buses are one of the safest forms of transportation in the nation—nearly 2,000 times safer than the family car. Accidents are rare because school districts and the school bus contractors who serve them work hard to train drivers to avoid getting into accidents.

Additionally, buses are designed to withstand all but the most serious crashes without death or serious injury. Each fall during National School Bus Safety Week, parents and teachers can help prevent future accidents with continued training that shows the proper ways for children to get on and get off buses safely.

Surprisingly, more children are hurt outside a bus than inside one. Children must be alerted to the danger zone around every yellow school bus, especially if they bend over to retrieve a dropped school paper, or walk too closely to the bus while crossing the street. Many school districts teach children to take five giant steps as soon as they leave the bus to escape that danger zone. If children need to cross the street after exiting the bus, schools teach them to cross in front of the bus and to be sure they are able to maintain eye contact with the driver.

Perhaps the most difficult thing to teach children, especially young children, is to not go back to pick up items they've dropped near the bus or left on the bus.

Parents and other adults must also do their parts. Motorists need to learn to share the road with school buses, and stop when the bus stops to take on or let off passengers. If we all do our part, if motorists heed school bus warning lights, bus drivers drive defensively, parents help their children learn to ride safely, and children learn to avoid the bus's danger zone, a yellow bus can be the safest ride to and from school.

Safety Tips for Children

  • When you get off the bus, take five giant steps away from the bus, out of the danger zone.
  • Cross in front of the bus, and make sure you maintain eye contact with the driver.
  • Never go back for anything.
  • Never bend down near or under the bus.

Safety Tips for Parents

  • Assure your children that you won't get mad if they do not go back onto the bus for a jacket or other personal items they may have left.
  • Instruct your children to never look for school work they may have dropped under the wheel of a bus.
  • Encourage your children to sit quietly in their seat and follow the driver's instructions on bus safety.

Safety Tips for Motorists

  • Pay attention to the bus's flashing warning lights and mechanical "stop sign arm."
  • Make a complete stop when the bus's warning lights are flashing, or the stop sign arm comes out. Do not proceed until the arm is lowered and the lights stop flashing.
  • Lower your driving speed around schools and especially where children are loading and unloading from buses and cars.
  • Share the road with the yellow bus.
  • Obey the School Zone speed limit of 15 mph when school is in session and children are present.

Helpful Links to More Safety Information