NHTSA Video Asks Drivers to Stop for School Buses

school bus safety

school bus safety (3)There is no doubt that nearby drivers are one of the biggest dangers to students riding school buses. Every year, cars ignoring bus safety lights and stop arms endanger, injure, or even kill student riders. This is a problem that should be preventable, if only there were better public education - and now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is trying to make that happen.

The NHTSA has released a video (which you can watch here) discussing recent incidents in Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky, imploring people to follow traffic laws when near school buses. This is accompanied by a number of important school bus safety tips, which are well worth going over with your own students, parents, and other caregivers.

Five Crucial School Bus Safety Tips From the NHTSA

1. Understand the light coding.

Lights on school buses mirror those of stop lights. When the lights are flashing yellow, it indicates that the bus is preparing to stop and that motorists should likewise slow down. Red lights, just as in a stop light, mean nearby drivers must come to a full stop.

Just helping other motorists understand this, alone, would help prevent stop arm violations.

2. Students should arrive at their bus stop at least five minutes early.

Arriving early helps prevent the children from rushing, or engaging in unsafe behavior trying to catch a bus which is about to pull away.  

3. Students should stand well away from the curb.

To be safe, students should stand several feet back from the curb where the bus will be stopping. Ideally, it should be around 5-6 feet, or "three giant steps" when dealing with younger riders. They should not approach the bus until it has come to a complete stop.

4. Students should be aware of the "danger zone."

Show students where bus drivers can and can't see them when they're crossing the street or preparing to board a bus. Students should never walk behind a bus and should be far enough in front that they can make eye contact with the driver. If they can't see the driver, the driver can't see them.

5. Students should tell drivers about dropped items.

If a student drops a belonging near the bus, they should not bend down and pick it up themselves. Instead, they should alert the driver. Bending down makes them impossible to see, and increases the chances of an incident.

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Keeping children safe when boarding or exiting a school bus is everybody's business. How does your district educate the public about school bus safety on the road? Let's talk about it below.