Students are about 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a bus instead of traveling by car. That’s because school buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road; they’re designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries; and in every state, stop-arm laws protect children from other motorists.
Different by Design: School buses are designed so that they’re highly visible and include safety features such as flashing red lights, cross-view mirrors and stop-sign arms. They also include protective seating, high crush standards and rollover protection features.
Protected by the Law: Laws protect students who are getting off and on a school bus by making it illegal for drivers to pass a school bus while dropping off or picking up passengers, regardless of the direction of approach.
Seat belts have been required on passenger cars since 1968; and 49 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws requiring the use of seat belts in passenger cars and light trucks. There is no question that seat belts play an important role in keeping passengers safe in these vehicles. But school buses are different by design, including a different kind of safety restraint system that works extremely well.
Large school buses are heavier and distribute crash forces differently than passenger cars and light trucks do. Because of these differences, bus passengers experience much less crash force than those in passenger cars, light trucks and vans.
NHTSA decided the best way to provide crash protection to passengers of large school buses is through a concept called “compartmentalization.” This requires that the interior of large buses protect children without them needing to buckle up. Through compartmentalization, children are protected from crashes by strong, closely-spaced seats that have energy-absorbing seat backs.
Small school buses (with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less) must be equipped with lap and/or lap/shoulder belts at all designated seating positions. Since the sizes and weights of small school buses are closer to those of passenger cars and trucks, seat belts in those vehicles are necessary to provide occupant protection.
The greatest risk to your child is not riding a bus, but approaching or leaving one. Before your child goes back to school or starts school for the first time, it’s important for you and your child to know traffic safety rules. Teach your child to follow these practices to make school bus transportation safer.
Safety Starts at the Bus Stop
Get On and Off Safely
Use Caution Around the Bus
Make school bus transportation safer for everyone by following these practices:
SCHOOL BUS SAFETY INFOGRAPHICS
SAFETY BENEFITS OF SCHOOL BUSES (PDF, 662 KB)
SAFETY FEATURES OF SCHOOL BUSES (PDF, 659 KB)
SAFETY REQUIREMENTS OF SCHOOL BUSES (PDF, 987 KB)
BEST PRACTICES GUIDE
REDUCING THE ILLEGAL PASSING OF SCHOOL BUSES
School bus transportation plays a critical role in the education of our nation’s students, and is the direct link between a neighborhood and the classroom. More than 25 million children ride the yellow bus every school day, and National School Bus Safety Week serves as a reminder for students, parents, teachers, and the community to keep school bus safety in the forefront. Here are tips to keep our children safe at the bus stop.
Getting Ready for School:
• Have your children put everything they carry in a backpack or school bag so that they won’t drop things along the way.
• Encourage them to wear bright, contrasting colors so they will be more easily seen by drivers.
• Make sure children leave home on time so they can arrive at the bus stop before it is due, ideally at least five minutes early. Running after or in front of a bus is dangerous.
Walking to the Bus Stop:
• Walk young children to the bus stop or encourage children to walk in groups. There is safety in numbers; groups are easier for drivers to see.
• Practice good pedestrian behavior: walk on the sidewalk, and if there is no sidewalk stay out of the street. If you must walk in the street, walk single file, face traffic and stay as close to the edge of the road as you can.
• Stop and look left, right and then left again if you must cross the street. Do the same thing at drive -ways and alleys. Exaggerate your head turns and narrate your actions so your child knows you are looking left, right and left.
At the Bus Stop:
• Have children wait in a location where the driver can see them while driving down the street. Try to avoid waiting in a house or car.
• Do not let children play in the street. Playing with balls or other toys that could roll into the street is also dangerous. Getting On and Off the Bus
• Warn children that if they drop something getting on and off the bus, they should never pick it up. Instead, they should tell the driver and follow the driver’s instructions.
• Remind children to look to the right before they step off the bus.
• If you meet your child at the bus stop after school, wait on the side where the child will be dropped off, not across the street. Children can be so excited to see you after school that they dash across the street and forget the safety rules.
Cell phones and other electronic devices are often permitted on the school bus as long as:
• They are in backpacks or other holders, keeping hands free to use handrails while boarding and departing the bus.
• Sound is muted or headphones, ear buds or similar devices are used. • Content does not violate the law or school district policy and procedures.
Lap and Shoulder Belts Make Them Even Safer
Some 25 million students nationwide begin and end their day with a trip on a school bus. Designed for safety, with flashing lights, giant mirrors, stop-sign arms and that bright yellow color, students are 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a school bus instead of traveling by car, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
School buses are designed to protect students through compartmentalization – closely spaced seats and high, energy-absorbing seat backs. Seat belts protect students, too.
In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated its support for lap and shoulder belts on buses, and NSC has joined in support of this position to ensure the safest ride for children.
October is National School Bus Safety Month!
National School Bus Safety Month is declared by a unanimous resolution of the United States Senate. The purpose is for parents, students, teachers, motorists, and school bus drivers to promote the importance of school bus safety. School districts throughout the country choose one week in October to observe school bus safety. However, CSN Safe Bus provides resources and technology to improve school bus safety all year around. Broadcasters are encouraged to promote public service announcements throughout the year to reduce student injuries and make all school bus transportation safer from preventable accidents.
The Child Safety Network and the National PTA are proud to promote the goals and mission of School Bus Safety Month by providing resources that increase the safety of 26 million students as they are transported 5.6 billion miles each year on over 500,000 school buses (our nation’s largest form of public transportation).
Bullying on-board school buses is a nation-wide problem. Learning how to prevent bullying can ensure that our children are transported to and from school in a safe and friendly environment.