Teaching Your Child to Be Bus Stop Smart
When summer winds down, and we prepare our kids for going back to school, it’s a good time to revisit safety. Parents worry about sending their kids off to school—classes, friends, peer pressure, grades, and more give many parents sleepless nights. Safety in school is a concern for parents. But what about on the way to school?
Many children ride buses to school, but what can parents do to help their kids stay safe when they are riding the bus? Let’s take a look at a few ideas to keep your child safer on the way to school.
Wearing bright clothing with reflective tape helps drivers see your child. Bright colors are trendy right now, which means your child should be thrilled to don bright clothing. Buy reflective tape and put it on your child’s coats, backpacks, or other items they carry. You can also buy outerwear, backpacks, and shoes with built-in reflective strips.
If your child spends any time waiting for a bus, these items are a great idea. Also, tell your child that drivers may not see them at the bus stop or side of the road even with the reflective tape and colorful clothes due to light shining in their eyes, distractions, etc.
Remind your child that it is important for them to stand where it’s safe, off the road and on the sidewalk—well away from vehicles.
Bus Stop Awareness
Make sure the bus stop has proper lighting. If your child waits for the bus outside your home, you will want to provide a flashlight or lantern. Also be sure the area is free of harmful items such as broken glass or barbed wire.
The bus stop should be cleared of snow and ice during the winter. If your child uses public or school provided transportation, and you feel the bus stop is unsuitable, call your transportation office to file a complaint.
Instruct your children to tell you about any people who appear at the bus stop for no apparent reason. When you have any concerns, go with your child to the bus stop and see for yourself. Find out what you need to know.
Rules Without Seat Belts
School buses and public transportation are not required to have seat belts. Talk to your children about remaining in their seats and sitting quietly. The same rules apply whether you have seat belts or not.
The child should remain in his or her seat until the bus is fully stopped. It’s important to sit in the seat facing forward and to avoid changing seats while the bus is moving. Your child should also know where the emergency exits are on a bus.
Don’t assume your child knows the rules. Be sure to go over the basics and discuss anything your child needs to know to stay safely in their seat on the bus.
Kids can get hurt if exiting isn’t done properly. Pushing and shoving can result in injuries. Teach your child to be patient and calm. If that means exiting the bus last to avoid the pushing and shoving matches, then that’s OK.
Once off the bus, the driver will give the children the go-ahead signal if they need to cross the road. Advise your child to cross in front of the bus, never behind it. Tell your child to pay attention to the driver or crossing guard and walk away from the bus when signaled to do so.
Children should not stand, walk, or play around the bus. These simple rules can prevent children from being hurt.
Awareness First is Safety First
Awareness is step one for safety in any situation, and riding public transportation, school bus or otherwise, is certainly no exception. Teach your child to be watchful of traffic, people, weather, and strange or scary behavior.
Make sure your child understands that they must not make assumptions. For instance, crosswalks are not a guaranteed safe place. There are unreliable drivers on the road at all times of the day.
Teach your child that even if a signal says WALK, look both ways before they step into the crosswalk. Safety first rules apply at the bus stop and on the bus just as surely as they apply everywhere else in your child’s day. Kids can be distracted as they go to and from school.
They have friends to visit, classes to hurry to, and homework to think about, just to name a few things on their minds. So, let’s remind our little ones that safety is a real issue and that they should be aware of.
In a nutshell:
- Talk with our kids about the bus stop and the bus ride.
- If at all possible make unannounced visits to the bus stop.
- Introduce yourself to the bus driver.
- Familiarize yourself with this part of your child’s day to ensure that your child is in the safest situation possible so everyone can relax and enjoy the return to school.
Have a fabulous back-to-school season and get your camera ready for the first day of school!