School Bus Safety
For some 22 million students
nationwide, the school day begins and ends with a trip on a school bus.
Unfortunately, each year many children are injured and several are killed in
school bus incidents.
School bus related crashes killed
164 persons and injured an estimated 18,000 persons nationwide in 1999,
according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's
Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and General Estimates System (GES).
Over the past six years, about
70% of the deaths in fatal school bus related crashes were occupants of vehicles
other than the school bus and 20% were pedestrians. About 4% were school bus
passengers and 2% were school bus drivers. Of the pedestrians killed in school
bus related crashes over this period, approximately 77% were struck by the
school bus. Of the people injured in school bus related crashes from 1994
through 1999, about 44% were school bus passengers, 9% were school bus drivers,
and another 43% were occupants of other vehicles.
Although drivers of all vehicles
are required to stop for a school bus when it is stopped to load or unload
passengers, children should not rely on them to do so. The National Safety
Council encourages parents to teach their children these rules for getting on
and off the school bus.
When waiting for the bus, stay away from traffic and avoid
roughhousing or other behavior that can lead to carelessness. Do not stray onto
streets, alleys or private property.
Line up away from the street or road as the school bus approaches.
Wait until the bus has stopped and the door opens before stepping
onto the roadway.
Use the hand rail when stepping onto the bus.
When on the bus, find a seat and sit down. Loud talking or other
noise can distract the bus driver and is not allowed.
Never put head, arms or hands out of the window.
Keep aisles clear -- books or bags are tripping hazards and can
block the way in an emergency.
Before you reach your stop, get ready to leave by getting your
books and belongings together.
At your stop, wait for the bus to stop completely before getting
up from your seat. Then, walk to the front door and exit, using the hand rail.
If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk at least
ten feet ahead of the bus along the side of the road, until you can turn around
and see the driver.
Make sure that the driver can see you.
Wait for a signal from the driver before beginning to cross.
When the driver signals, walk across the road, keeping an eye out
for sudden traffic changes.
Do not cross the center line of the road until the driver has
signaled that it is safe for you to begin walking.
Stay away from the bus' rear wheels at all times.
Children should always stop at the curb or the edge of the road
and look left, then right, and then left again before crossing.
They should continue looking in this manner until they are safely
If students' vision is blocked by a parked car or other obstacle,
they should move out to where drivers can see them and they can see other
vehicles -- then stop, and look left-right-left again.
Bus Safety: Infants, Toddlers, and Pre-schoolers
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of infants, toddlers and pre-school-aged children who are being transported in school buses. Various federal, state and local government programs have been established to provide young children and their families with services designed to support the child's growth and development. Additionally, in some situations and locations, school bus drivers are allowed to bring their own infants, toddlers and pre-school-aged children on the bus with them.
The exact number of children
under the age of five riding in school buses in unknown. However, this
population includes children served in several programs for children from birth
through age five. These programs include the Early Intervention Programs for
Infants and Toddlers With Disabilities, the Pre-schools Grant Program, the Early
Education Program for Children with Disabilities, Head Start, Bureau of Indian
Affairs Programs and Teenage Parent programs, as well as child care centers.
Because current school bus
designs and federal safety regulations were formulated based on child passengers
in grades K through 12, infants, toddlers and pre-school-aged children may be
more vulnerable in a crash or sudden driving maneuver. Nevertheless, for many of
these children, the school bus is the primary vehicle that provides access to
the programs and services that are designed to meet individual needs of children
Transportation of infants, toddlers and pre-school-aged children should be established with the mutual cooperation of parents, transportation providers and service providers. Pre-school-aged children who ride school buses include children with and without disabilities. Accordingly, transportation providers need to be knowledgeable and to develop skills to provide adequately for the safety of young children while being transported in school buses. Infants, toddlers and pre-school-aged children with special physical, cognitive or behavioral needs present new challenges and responsibilities for transportation providers.
These children may require a
great deal of supervision during the time they are in the school bus. Some
issues that must be addressed to assure safe transportation in the school bus
communication with young children
child safety seats, restraint systems, safety vests
wheelchairs and occupant securement systems
special equipment management
medically fragile and complex conditions
length of ride
Because there are large numbers
of children under the age of five who are transported on school buses, it is
essential to recommend guidelines for child safety seats, occupant passenger
restraints and securement systems.
The National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration (NHTSA) has promulgated "Preschool Transportation
Guidelines" that establish guidelines for transporting pre-school-aged
children. (NHTSA defines "pre-school" as children under 50 pounds.)
The guidelines outline the following principles for car seat use:
Each child should be transported in a suitable, approved Child
Safety Restraint System (CSRS) certified to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety
Standard (FMVSS) No. 213. CSRSs include forward-facing, rear-facing, and booster
child safety seats - car seats, and safety vests.
School bus drivers and attendants
should be trained in emergency procedures, which includes:
A written evacuation plan and evacuation drills with the children
Parents must have clear
communication with schools and care providers about transportation policies and
procedures. To reinforce these same safety procedures in their personal family
travel, parents should insist on proper restraint system and CSRS use.