school bus

Education: Children Safest on the School Bus

school bus

Cary, NC – Here’s an interesting fact: “School buses are nearly eight times safer than passenger vehicles”. And yet less than half of all school aged children ride the buses in Wake County. Of the 153,000 school kids registered this year, only 75,000 will ride our buses. No wonder this area can’t get behind public mass transit!

Somewhere along the way, parents have been led to believe that driving their kids to school each morning either is a safer bet, or saves them time. Two fallacies, after you watch parents driving while texting and talking on the phone, and passing stopped school buses in the mornings.

School Bus is Safest

While carpooling is a common practice in many communities, a school bus is the safest way for children to get to school. School buses serve children daily in nearly every community, and fatal crashes involving school bus occupants are extremely rare events.

 Watch The Bus Stops

Getting to and from the bus is actually more dangerous than riding the bus itself. In the United States, 26 children were killed as pedestrians getting on or off a school bus, or while waiting at the school bus stop, in 2007. This means that five times as many children were killed while getting on or off the bus than while riding it.

Traditional School Starts

Now is a great time to remind your children of safe practices when boarding and exiting the school bus and a good time to refresh yourself.

“Remind your children about the 10-foot danger zone around the school bus where the driver can’t see them,” says Debbie Newman, Safe Kids Wake County coordinator. “To be sure the bus driver can see them – young children should take at least five giant steps away from the bus while entering or exiting the bus. Older kids who must cross the street should look at the bus driver for an ‘OK’ sign before crossing in front of the bus.”

10 Bus Safety Tips:

  1. Arrive at the bus stop five minutes early.
  2. Stay in a safe place away from the street while waiting for the bus.
  3. Stand at least five giant steps (10 feet) away from the edge of the road.
  4. Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says it is okay before moving toward the bus.
  5. Have your parents help you check that your clothing does not have drawstrings and that your book bag does not have straps or dangling objects.  They can get caught in the door when exiting the bus.
  6. If something falls under or near the bus, tell the driver. Never try to pick it up yourself!
  7. When you get on or off the bus, look for the bus safety lights and make sure they are flashing. Tell the driver if they are not.
  8. Be alert to traffic. When you get on or off the bus, look left, right and left again before you enter or cross the street.
  9. Stay in your seat, and sit quietly on the bus so that the driver is not distracted.
  10. Some school buses now have seat belts. If you have seat belts on your school bus, be sure to learn to use the seat belt correctly on every ride.

By Far The Safest Way To Travel

“School buses are, by far, the safest way for kids of all ages to get to and from school,” adds Debbie Newman. “It would be ideal if children did not have to cross a busy street unattended to get to their bus stop. However, regardless of their bus stop location, all kids should stand on the grass or sidewalk while waiting for the bus. Kids should not move toward the bus until the driver has opened the door of the bus and signaled it is okay to enter.”

Motorists Need to Be Aware

In North Carolina it is against the law to pass a stopped school bus, and motorists should never pass a school bus with its lights flashing.

Looking for additional information? Visit the Safe Kids website for more details.


Story by Lindsey Chester. Photo by Thomas Barta.


Education coverage on CaryCitizen is sponsored in part by Hopewell Academy in Cary, serving grades 5 – 12.