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Back to School: Keeping Kids Safe on School Buses

School bus safety

School is just around the corner. How will your kids come and go? Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center wants you to ensure your kids are safe, especially if they will be riding the school bus.

According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, there was an average of 137 fatalities related to school transportation between the years 2001 and 2010.
But don’t let the statistics frighten you. School buses are made with safety in mind. Per the American School Bus Council, they are tougher, cleaner and more diligently maintained than ever before. Large school buses are heavier and distribute crash forces differently than do passenger cars and light trucks.

In addition, school bus drivers are required to receive extensive training and undergo regular drug and alcohol testing for a safe ride for your children.

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In fact, school buses are some of the safest forms of transportation in the US. Every year, approximately 450,000 public school buses travel about 4.3 billion miles to transport 23.5 million children to and from school and related activities. While the NHTSA strives for zero injuries and fatalities, the good news is that those that happen are rather rare.

Unfortunately, most school bus related injuries and fatalities occur while children are boarding or exiting a bus. Most involved motorists illegally passing a stopped school bus. So it is wise to help your children be as safe as possible before, during and after the school bus ride.

While Waiting for the Bus
• Children should arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is expected to arrive. Early arrival helps children avoid running across the street to catch the bus or running after the school bus if it has already left the bus stop.
• Parents should encourage their child to avoid horseplay while waiting for the bus to keep children and/or their belongings out of the road and away from traffic.
• Teach kids to stand at least three giant steps back from the curb as the bus approaches and to never move towards the bus until it has stopped and the driver opens the door.
• Children should avoid the school bus "danger zone" by staying 10 feet away from the front or back end of the bus so that the driver can see them.

During the Bus Ride
• If a child drops something, they should tell the bus driver and make sure the bus driver is able to see them before they pick it up.
• Children should always use the hand rail when entering the bus.
• Check that drawstrings, backpack straps, scarves and loose clothing cannot get caught on the bus handrail, door or the seats.
• Parents should teach children to never push or shove other students.
• All children can help prevent falls on the bus by keeping the aisles clear of backpacks or books that can trip someone or block the way to the emergency exit.
• Children should remain seated, facing forward at all times during the bus ride.
• Shouting should be avoided to avoid unnecessarily distracting the bus driver.
• Parents should discuss the importance of never throwing any objects into, out of, or inside the bus.

After the Bus Ride
• Children should never leave their seat until the bus makes a complete stop.
• Remind kids to use handrails when exiting the bus.
• If your child needs to cross the street after exiting the bus, he or she should take five giant steps in front of the bus, make eye contact with the bus driver and cross when the driver indicates it's safe.
• The child should not talk to strangers when walking to and from bus stop.
• Teach kids to look left, right and left again before crossing the street.
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. "Parents need to talk to their children about school bus safety at the start of the school year."
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration