Bus and bus stop safety is just something we need to educate our children on every year as they head “back to school”.
Safety in school is a concern for all parents. But what about on the way to and from school? Many parents send their children off to school on buses or other means of public transportation. What can parents do to help their kids stay safe when they are riding the bus? Let’s take a look at a few ideas to keep your child safe on the bus.
1. Outerwear that Glows
Dress your child in bright colored outerwear, especially if they are leaving or coming home when it is dark. Buy reflective tape and put it on your child’s coats, backpacks *(Reflective Backpack), or other items they carry. Wearing bright clothing with reflective tape helps drivers see your child. You can also buy outerwear, backpacks, and shoes with built-in reflective strips. If your child spends any time waiting for a bus, these items are a great idea. Also, tell your child that drivers may not see them at the bus stop or side of the road even with the reflective tape and colorful clothes due to light shining in their eyes, distractions, etc. Remind your child that it is important for them to stand where it’s safe, off the road and on the sidewalk, well away from the vehicles.
2. Bus Stop Awareness
Make sure the bus stop has proper lighting. If your child waits for the bus outside your home, you will want to provide a flashlight or lantern. Also be sure the area is free of harmful items such as broken glass or barbed wire. The bus stop should be cleared of snow and ice during the winter. If your child uses public or school provided transportation and you feel the bus stop is unsuitable, call your transportation office to file a complaint. Instruct your children to tell you about any people who appear at the bus stop for no apparent reason.
3. Rules Without Seat Belts
Some school buses and public transportation may not be equipped with seat belts. Talk to them about the rules on a bus:
- remain in their seats, sitting quietly
- keep your hands and feet by your side and not in the aisle
- wait until bus comes to a complete stop before getting up
- sit in your seat facing forward
- don’t change seats while the bus is moving
- know where the emergency exits are
Don’t assume your child knows the rules. Be sure to go over the basics and discuss anything your child needs to know to stay safe in their seat on the bus.
Create a social story, that has pictures of your child in it. Maybe you read it to them every morning before school so they know the routine. You can also work with you school and ask them to help you take pictures of your child getting on the bus, in the bus and off the bus.
If bus safety is a concern for you and the school, you may want to see if the bus driver or bus company are ok with you having an assigned seat for your child at the beginning, especially if they are younger and tape a checklist on the back of the seat in front of them so they know what comes next. This was helpful for my son when he first started out on the bus.
4. Bus Exiting Rules
You would think that exiting a school bus would be simple, but kids can get hurt if exiting isn’t done properly. Pushing and shoving can result in injuries. So share with them the following rules for getting off the bus:
- be patient and calm – wait your turn
- it’s okay if you want to exit
- make sure driver says it’s okay to cross the street
- no standing or playing around the bus after you get off
5. Awareness First is Safety First
Awareness is step one for safety in any situation, and riding public transportation is certainly no exception. Teaching your child the following safety tips will make for a safe and fun ride on the bus:
- be aware and watch for traffic, people, weather, and strange or scary behavior
- crosswalks are not a guaranteed safe place, look for traffic coming from both directions (look both ways as I say to my son!)
- even if a signal says WALK, look both ways before they step into the crosswalk. Safety first rules apply at the bus stop and on the bus just as surely as they apply everywhere else in your child’s day.
- meet your child’s driver and share any concerns with them
6. Life360 App
If your child carries a cell phone to school, you may want to consider putting some sort of GPS app on their phone so you can track where they are and when they arrive to school or home if you are not home when they get there. We have downloaded the Life360 app on my son’s phone and love it. In fact, I have it on all the phones in my family.
My son has been able to text me when he’s on the bus, he calls me when he gets off the bus. It has been such a great safety tool for us and giving him the independence so I don’t have to wait outside at the bus stop anymore!