National School Bus Safety Week, which starts Oct. 17, is an 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 bus safety.
School buses are the safest way to transport children to and from school, but injuries can occur if kids are not careful and aware when getting on and off the bus. Here are some great tips for school bus safety:
▪ Walk with your kids to the bus stop and wait with them until the bus 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 to never walk behind the bus, or any other vehicle for that matter. 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 children 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 child drops something, they should tell the bus driver and make sure the bus driver is able to see them before they pick it up.
▪ Motorists 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. This means the bus is either preparing to stop (yellow) or already stopped (red), and children are getting on or off.
California Vehicle Code Section 22454 (a) states “the driver of any vehicle, upon meeting or overtaking, from either direction, any school bus equipped with signs as required in this code, that is stopped for the purpose of loading and unloading any school children and displays a flashing red light signal and stop signal arm if equipped with a stop signal arm, visible from front or rear shall bring the vehicle to a stop immediately before passing the school bus and shall not proceed past the school bus until the flashing red light signal and stop signal arm, if equipped with a stop signal arm, cease operation.”
California Vehicle Code Section 22454 (b)(1) states “the driver of a vehicle upon a divided highway or multiple-lane highway need not stop upon meeting or passing a school bus that is upon the other roadway.”
I rode the bus in elementary school and have fond memories of my friends and drivers. I also remember my first bus driver (Virginia) and how much I admired her. Sitting in the front seat was not my first choice when I started riding buses. The front seat was designated for problem students, and I was the problem student. As much as I tried to behave, I was just a little bit hyperactive and required a bit more attention, hence the front seat of the school bus.
I began to really enjoy sitting and talking with Virginia, and she quickly became one of my best friends. I was excited to ride the school bus, and looked forward to my trips to and from school. I always felt safe on the school bus and I know my parents appreciated and respected school bus drivers and their chosen careers.
When I worked in the CHP Fresno area office I was assigned as the back-up school bus officer and was fortunate to work with drivers on a daily basis. A bus driver’s main focus is to safeguard our children, and we need to make sure we are courteous and careful around school buses and kids.
Lastly, just about anyone can drive a car, but it takes a special person to drive a school bus. The CHP wants all children, and parents, to have a safe and happy school year.