"As children begin preparing to return to school, it's important for parents and children to go over school bus safety tips together," says Susan Laurence, injury prevention coordinator, Trauma Services at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. "This will help ensure a safe, enjoyable start to the school year for everyone."
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, an average of 19 school-age occupants of school transportation vehicles and pedestrians die in school transportation-related traffic crashes each year.
According to Laurence, many injuries happen when children are boarding or exiting the bus. "A blind spot extends about ten feet in front of the bus, obstructing the driver's view," she said. "Often times, children are not aware of this blind spot and might mistakenly believe that if they can see the bus, the bus driver can see them," she said.
Laurence offers the following suggestions to parents on how they can ensure their child is safe before, during and after their school bus ride.
- The child needs to arrive at the stop at least five minutes before the bus arrives.
- Parents should encourage their child to avoid horseplay while waiting on the bus.
- While on the bus, the child needs to remain seated, forward facing at all times and keep the aisles clear.
- The child should not shout while on the bus or distract the driver unnecessarily.
- The child needs to keep his head and arms inside the bus at all times.
- Parents should make sure that they remove loose drawstrings or ties on their child's jacket and sweatshirt because they can snag on bus handrails.
- When boarding or leaving the bus, parents should tell their child to always walk in a single file line and use the handrail to avoid falls.
- The child should look before stepping into the street to make sure there are no cars passing the bus.
- The child should cross the street at least 10 feet (or 5 giant steps) in front of the bus.
- The child needs to wait until the bus comes to a complete stop before exiting.
- The child needs to exit from the front of the bus.
- The child should ask the bus driver for help if anything is dropped while entering or exiting the bus.