With school now back in session, everyone is gradually getting settled into the normal day-to-day routine.
Unfortunately, last year around this time, we witnessed the bus-related death of five children, along with serious injuries to another seven children, all within a one-week span in late-October through early-November.
These incidents gained national attention and took place in rural communities in Indiana, Mississippi, Florida and Pennsylvania.
Most tragic is the fact that all these incidents could have been prevented. These young children, ranging in ages 5 to 12, were all trying to do the same thing … safely get to school.
The school bus serves as the direct link between a neighborhood and the classroom. With more than 25 million children riding the yellow bus every school day, school bus transportation plays a critical role in the education of our nation’s students.
Each year, the third full week in October is home to National School Bus Safety Week, an active and evolving public education program and an excellent way for parents, students, teachers, motorists, school bus operators, school administrators and other interested parties – to join forces and address the importance of school bus safety.
Ensuring our children arrive to and from school safely each day is the responsibility of us. Here are a few bus safety tips:
- Getting Ready for School – School prep is important. Children should put everything they carry in a backpack or school bag so that they won’t drop things along the way. Encourage children to wear bright, contrasting colors so they will be more easily seen by drivers. Make sure children leave home on time so they can arrive at the bus stop before it is due, ideally at least five minutes early. Running after or in front of a bus is very dangerous.
- Walking to the Bus Stop – Walk young children to the bus stop or encourage children to walk in groups. There is safety in numbers and groups are easier for drivers to see. Practice good pedestrian behavior: walk on the sidewalk, and if there is no sidewalk stay out of the street. If you must walk in the street, walk single file, face traffic and stay as close to the edge of the road as you can. Stop and look left, look right and then left again if you must cross the street. Do the same thing at driveways and alleys. Exaggerate your head turns and narrate your actions so your child knows you are looking left, right and left.
- At the Bus Stop – Have children wait in a location where the driver can easily see them while driving down the street. Try to avoid waiting in a house or car. Do not let children play in or near the street, as playing with balls or other toys that could roll onto the street is dangerous.
- Getting On and Off the Bus – Warn children that if they drop something getting on and off the bus, they should never pick it up. Instead, they should tell the driver and follow the driver’s instructions. Remind children to look to the right before they step off the bus. If you meet your child at the bus stop after school, wait on the side where the child will be dropped off, not across the street. Children can be so excited to see you after school that they dash across the street and forget the safety rules.
National School Bus Safety Week is Oct. 21-25, 2019 and this year’s theme is “My School Bus, The Safest Form of Student Transportation!” For more information, visit the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) at https://www.napt.org/nsbsw.
Safe Kids Clearfield County is part of Safe Kids Worldwide (http://www.safekids.org/), a global organization dedicated to preventing injuries in children, the number one killer of kids in the United States.
For more information, please contact Judy Patterson, community volunteer, at 814-414-5250. The coalition always welcomes new members and traditionally meets the third Tuesday during the months of January, March, May, July, September and November at noon at Cen-Clear Child Services, 50 Bigler Rd., Bigler.
Our next meeting will be on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Donations to our local Safe Kids Clearfield County Coalition are tax-deductible and can help ensure the word about safe practices can be spread all year long.
Connect with us on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ClearfieldCountySafeKids/.
Jana L. Davidson
Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation & President of Safe Kids Clearfield County