School Bus Safety

School busesSchool buses are the safest vehicles on the road. These highly regulated vehicles are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries. Virginia law mandates that traffic stop for a stopped bus with flashing lights and the stop sign extended. Students are at the greatest risk of injury when they are either approaching a school bus or leaving a school bus. It is important that both students and parents know and understand safe loading and unloading procedures. It is also important that you teach your children other safety procedures that revolve around school transportation processes.

Boarding and Departing the School Bus

The most dangerous part of school transportation for students is getting to and from the school bus stop and getting on and off the bus. Teachers, principals, parents and school bus drivers have a responsibility to make sure that students know proper behavior and rules during this time.

- Arrive at the bus stop ten minutes ahead of your scheduled time. The bus must depart at the designated time.
- Students must stand well away off the roadway while awaiting the bus.
- Eyes and Ears should be unobstructed. Students need to be able to hear and see any potential danger when boarding and departing the school bus. Earphones, headphones or items/clothing that impact visibility should be removed during the boarding or departing process.
- Wait until the bus stops before approaching.
- Wait for the bus driver to provide a hand signal prior to crossing the road.
- Students must cross the road only in front of the bus when traffic has completely stopped by means of the flashing red lights and the extended stop arms on the bus. Students must NEVER cross the road in back of the bus.
- Look in all directions prior to crossing and use crosswalks where available.
- Hold the handrail as you get on the bus.
- Students must enter and leave the bus at schools and student stops in an orderly fashion. This requires students to always proceed with caution showing due regard for his/her own safety and the safety of others
- Students, upon boarding the bus, must go directly to their assigned seat and sit down as soon as possible. Students shall not change or trade seats. Students must remain in their assigned seat for the entire duration of the trip.
- Make sure book bag straps, purses, clothing drawstrings, etc. do not get caught on the handrail or in the door.
- Leave any item if dropped near the bus and move to a point out of the 12 foot Danger Zone. Do not retrieve anything without first getting the attention of the bus driver by waving your hands above your head and then receiving instruction from the bus driver.
- Never chase after a moving bus. Once the bus starts moving – you should stop moving.
- Parents and guardians should direct and instruct students to ride only in their assigned school buses and get off only at assigned bus stops, except when the division has approved alternative buses or arrangements.

The Danger Zone

The “Danger Zone” is the area on all sides of the bus where children are in the most danger of not being seen by the driver (twelve feet in front of the bus where the driver may be sitting too high to see a child, twelve feet on either side of the bus where a child may be in the driver’s blind spot, and the area behind the school bus).

Most students, fatally injured, are pedestrians, five to seven years old. They are hit in the “Danger Zone” around the bus, either by a passing vehicle or by the school bus itself.

All children, but especially young children, should be taught and instructed to:

- Cautiously walk to and from the bus; never run
- Look for traffic from all directions
- Never assume motorists will see them and will wait for them to cross;
- Stay within the bus driver’s sight
- Alert the driver if the student drops any item near the bus; never attempt to retrieve an object dropped in front of or under a bus
- Always wait until the bus comes to a complete stop before boarding or departing the school bus
- Students should use the handrail when boarding and departing the bus

School bus danger zone graphic

Safety Resources

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