Jackson, MS – Taking the school bus for the first time is a big step for your child. It can also be a big step for you as the parent who walks your children to the end of the driveway or street corner to wait for the bus to arrive. To make waving ‘good bye’ to your child as they board the bus a little easier, the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) promotes National School Bus Safety Week to teach the traveling public about school bus safety. The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) encourages all motorists, especially parents, to take part in National School Bus Safety Week, October 19-23, by practicing school bus safety precautions with your children.
There are many advantages to school buses. More than ever before, school buses are built with safety and durability in mind. School bus drivers undergo frequent driving record checks, receive training in security and emergency medical procedures and undergo regular drug and alcohol testing to provide a safe ride for your child. Additionally, school buses create a safer environment on the roadways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), school buses keep an annual estimated 17.3 million cars off roads surrounding schools each morning.
School buses are the safest mode of motorized transportation for getting children to and from school, but injuries can occur if kids are not careful and aware when getting on and off the bus. MDOT offers the following tips to all motorists as children and families head to school each morning:
Parents and Children:
Walk with your kids to the bus stop and wait with them until it arrives. Tell kids to stand at least three giant steps back from the curb as the bus approaches and board the bus one at a time.
Teach kids to wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before getting off and never to walk behind the bus.
If your child needs to cross the street after exiting the bus, he or she should take five giant steps in front of the bus, make eye contact with the bus driver and cross when the driver indicates it’s safe. Teach kids to look left, right and left again before crossing the street.
Instruct younger kids to use handrails when boarding or exiting the bus. Be careful of straps or drawstrings that could get caught in the door. If your children drop something, they should tell the bus driver and make sure the bus driver is able to see them before they pick it up.
Drivers should always follow the speed limit and slow down in school zones and near bus stops. Remember to stay alert and look for kids who may be trying to get to or from the school bus.
Slow down and stop if you’re driving near a school bus that is flashing yellow or red lights.
Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped, and that children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
Remain alert and look for pedestrians crossing at intersections or crosswalks and slowdown in school zones and residential areas, especially for children playing and gathering near bus stops.
Never overtake a school bus, unless you are traveling on a highway or interstate with multiple lanes.
Don’t be a distracted driver; you endanger your own life and the lives of others. Your call, text or email can wait.
For more safety tips and information about National School Bus Safety Week, visit www.safekids.org.
Whether you start each day walking children to the bus stop or on the interstate headed to work, make MDOTtraffic.com part of your morning routine to receive up-to-date traffic information and road condition alerts. Additional information can be found by calling 511 for on-demand, route-specific information or by following MDOT on Twitter.