School buses play a vital role in ensuring safe transportation for millions of students to and from educational institutions across the United States. National School Bus Safety Week, observed each year during a designated week in October, serves as a poignant reminder of the significance of bus safety.
During this week, schools, communities, and organizations come together to raise awareness, educate students and parents, and promote safe practices to protect our children during their daily commute. This article will explore the significance of National School Bus Safety Week and provide practical tips for enhancing school bus safety.
What is National School Bus Safety Week?
The National School Bus Safety Week is an event held during the third full week of October every year. Its primary purpose is to address the importance of school bus safety. School districts throughout the country observe this week-long event.
This safety awareness campaign was established in 1963 as an advocacy by Dick Fischer, a long-time student transportation consultant in California and the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT). By 1970, Fischer took his cause national by distributing safety information flyers to state directors of transportation across the United States.
Fischer’s campaign efforts spread and gained momentum. Eventually, hundreds of school districts throughout the country began establishing a week-long event by stressing school bus safety to the drivers, students, parents, teachers, and other motorists sharing the road with school buses. Today, the National School Bus Safety Week is coordinated by the NAPT.
This coming National School Bus Safety Week from October 16 to 20, 2023 is another chance to educate the students, teachers, parents, school bus operators, motorists, and the public about the importance of school bus safety.
Tips for promoting school bus safety.
School buses remain one of the safest modes of transportation for students traveling to and from school. Motorists, parents, students and school bus drivers must work together to help keep our roads safe. Here are some helpful tips to promote school bus safety.
1) Educate students about bus safety rules.
Teach students to follow safety rules, such as standing six feet away from the curb while waiting for the school bus, boarding, and exiting the bus safely, and keeping the aisles clear of books and bags. Remind them to always do their part to stay safe both in and around the school bus.
2) Involve parents in school bus transportation safety
As parents, they should teach their own children some basic rules to help them stay safe on their bus ride to and from school, such as the following:
- Both parent and child should arrive at least five minutes before the school bus arrives.
- They should stand at least five steps away from the curb while waiting for the school bus.
- Wait until the school bus makes a complete stop and for the driver to signal that it’s okay to board.
- If a child should cross the street to board the bus, he or she should be at least ten feet in front of the bus. They should look all ways to ensure that traffic has stopped. Then, they should wait for the driver to signal that it is okay to proceed.
- Children should always cross in front of the bus, not behind it. They should make sure that they see the bus driver and the bus driver sees them.
- Parents must encourage their children to stay seated at all times, especially while the school bus is in motion.
3) Raise bus school safety awareness
There are many ways to raise school safety awareness, such as creating posters and displaying them throughout the campus and distributing flyers to all students. Social media platforms can be helpful for spreading school bus safety awareness. Social media platforms such as Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, or LinkedIn can be used to post messages, tips, as well as powerful images that promote and convey school bus safety in your district.
Events such as National Bus Safety Week allow for fun but meaningful activities. Depending on the grade level, contests can be to create a safety poster, write a safety speech, create a safety public service announcement, etc.
4) Safe driving practices for school bus drivers
Great school bus drivers don’t just drive – they care for the students. These tips will help ensure safe driving to and from school:
- Safety begins in the driver’s seat, so it’s crucial for the school bus drivers to look after their personal well-being, so that they should stay alert and focused on all times when they’re behind the wheel. This means that drivers should plan at least a day ahead, ensuring that they should make sure they are eating properly, getting enough sleep, and avoid coffee, alcohol, and certain medications that could disrupt their sleep or cause them to feel sluggish the next day.
- Before rolling out on the road, bus drivers should check the condition of their vehicle, making sure the ride is safe and comfortable for the students. Thoroughly inspect the necessary components of their vehicle such as brakes, glass wipers, petrol or diesel, tires, etc.
- Every driver should pay attention to traffic lights and know some of the essential traffic signs for one-way, U-turn, no horn area, prohibited zones, etc. to avoid accidents.
- Drivers should keep their eyes on the road and slow down when approaching a detour sign.
- It’s a good idea to add more mirrors to the bus to assist the blind spot with sight distance. These mirrors will be helpful especially in heavy and unpredictable traffic.
- Drivers should set a permissible speed limit for their vehicle. Doing so will control the speed limit and ensure the safety of everyone on board.
5) Tips for drivers sharing the road with school buses
- School buses usually travel at slower speeds and make frequent stops. So, be patient, slow down, and when the school bus makes a stop, be prepared to stop for them.
- Yellow lights mean the school bus is making a stop, so slow down.
- Red lights mean that the school bus has stopped so that students get on or off the bus. Never pass a bus that has stopped with its red lights flashing.
- Watch for kids who cross in front of the bus when the school bus has stopped.
- Keep an eye for kids at bus stops and those approaching bus stops.
- School buses must stop at railroad crossings by law. Be prepared to make a stop at railroad crossings when you’re driving behind a school bus.
- Avoid using your smartphone, putting on makeup, eating or anything that can distract you while driving. Always keep your focus on the road and your surroundings.
While school bus safety should be taught and reminded of every day, National School Bus Safety Week is a great opportunity to emphasize how important this matter is to everyone.
Students, teachers, school bus drivers and operators, motorists, and other interested parties should participate in this active and evolving program to learn the importance of school bus safety. When everyone is well-informed about school bus safety, it ensures safe and efficient transportation for students on their trips to and from school and other school-related activities.
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a school bus driver, or seeing if positions are open in your area, visit the School Bus Hero website.