School Bus Safety Is Everyone’s Job

This is School Bus Safety week.  In addition to the school bus drivers, officials say students and other drivers play an important role in keeping kids safe going to and from school or school-sponsored activities.

Craig Yetter, community relations coordinator for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Safety Administration, says an important part of the safety routine is getting on or off the bus. He says the student should walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus, so that the bus driver can see them.  He says they should be able to see the bus driver.

Yetter says students should make it a practice to arrive at the bus stop about 5 minutes early, so they don’t have to run across the road to catch the bus.  He says they should never run after a bus if it has already left the bus stop.  When waiting for the bus, line up at least five giant steps from the curb or road to keep away from traffic.

Yetter says when the bus is moving, students should stay in their seats, face forward, and never put their heads or arms out the window.  They should speak quietly to avoid distracting the bus driver.

Other drivers need to slow down in school zones and when nearing bus stops, and obey the law to stop when the bus is picking up students or dropping them off. While 799 drivers were convicted last year of failing to stop for a school bus that had its flashing lights on, that was down from 865 the year before. 

Yetter says even if the bus has its flashing lights on and stop arm extended, students still need to watch out for traffic.

PA School Districts

Parents, Kids Reminded About School Bus Safety

Kids will be heading back to school over the next three weeks across Pennsylvania.   Parents are encouraged to have a safety talk with their children, about the right way to get on and off the bus and how to behave while on board.

Allyson Fulton, Child Safety Coordinator for Safe Kids PA, says there’s a 10 foot danger zone around the bus where a bus driver cannot see a child.  She says those areas are directly in front of the bus, directly behind the bus and on the right side towards the back of the bus.  She says children should be out in front where they can make eye contact with the bus driver, and they should stand five giant steps away from the bus. 

Fulton says a school bus is a very safe way for children to travel back and forth to school. Safe Kids PA says getting to and from the bus is more dangerous than riding it. 

Fulton recommends that children arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes early so they’re not running to catch the bus.  She says that way, the bus driver will see them standing at their bus stop. She says they should be on the sidewalk or grass so they’re a safe distance away when the bus pulls up.  Children should not try to board the bus until the driver opens the doors and motions them forward.

Fulton says Pennsylvania law requires vehicles to stop when a school bus has its red lights flashing and stop arm extended.  However, she says people violate that law every year, so students are urged to be cautious and always look left, right, then left again to make sure no vehicles are coming.

Fulton says if something falls near the bus when a child is getting on or off, the child should never try to retrieve it. The bus driver should be notified immediately.

In some areas, budget cuts have caused a reduction in school bus service.  Fulton says students who are walking to school need to walk against traffic and use sidewalks. She says bike riders need to ride with traffic, and walk their bikes across intersections.

 Fulton says children under 10 should not cross the street alone. Safe Kids PA recommends using the “walking school bus” if there are a number of children from the same community.  It involves one adult walking in front of the group of children and the other in the back to make sure the group gets to school safely.

Drivers are reminded to allow extra time to get to their destinations as school buses return to the roads.