Essential Tips to Help Your Kids Ride the School Bus Safely

Samantha Wilson

School buses and their safety has been a topic of concern for parents for years. It is hard to understand why children are required to wear seat belts on almost every other motor vehicle but not on a school bus.

This is the rationale. School buses have been designed to protect their passengers by using the "compartmentalization system." This system professes to confine children within the padded compartment in the event of a crash. Bus compartments high-backed seats that are anchored to the floor, stuffed with energy-absorbent material, and are positioned close together to create "compartments."

Transportation experts claim that in the event of crash, traveling by school bus is the safest form of transportation for kids. Children are more at risk of traffic-related injuries while they are getting on and off the bus than while actually riding it. However, there are other risks to school bus safety that parents need to be concerned about.

Children are being bullied, assaulted, and sometimes injured while riding the bus. Some school buses will carry upwards of thirty children at one time and often the only adult is the driver, who is busy controlling the vehicle. This leaves children vulnerable to bullies, injury, or even accidental death, as in the tragic case of four-year-old Allyceea Ennis. She was killed while riding a school bus to day care, and while the cause of her death is still unknown, there is evidence of pressure to her neck. It is believed that she fell off her seat, her balaclava catching on the seat in the process, and that she was strangled. School buses were designed for older children, not for toddlers, who need to be restrained in their seats for safety.

If your children ride a school bus, there are ways to stay safe. Here are a few tips you can teach your kids:

Be a few minutes early for the bus and don't run after one.
# Walk on sidewalks facing approaching traffic.
# Take five giant steps back when the school bus is approaching.
# Establish eye contact with the bus driver and other drivers before crossing the street.
# Stay at least five giant steps away from the front, side, and back of a school bus .
# Do not attempt to pick up anything that you drop near or under the bus.
# Use the handrail as you walk up the steps.
# Take your seat immediately and remain seated throughout the ride.
# Teach your child to sit during the bus ride, and to respect other passengers. The bus ride is not the time to play.

These are some ways that your kids can increase safety on and near the school bus. You should also ride the bus with your child at least once to get a better idea of what they are facing along the way. Get to know the bus driver. Let them know if you have any concerns for your child's safety while in their care.

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