Back-to-school safety: Get schooled

For 75 years, the yellow school bus has helped students from home to school and back again. Students are nearly eight times safer riding the bus according to research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Children are particularly vulnerable, and motorists need a heightened awareness when driving around schools. If you have a school-aged child, take a moment to learn some safety tips.

FOR CHILDREN

Communicate with your children and model appropriate behavior — your kids are watching. Share these rules with them and let them know they’re non-negotiable:

  • If you walk to your stop, stay on sidewalks and paths. Cross at street corners only, looking left, right, and left again. If you see a car approaching, make eye contact with the driver before crossing the street. Drivers aren’t always paying attention.
  • Never enter a street from between parked cars.
  • Never walk behind the bus. If you walk next to a bus, keep three giant steps between you and the bus. Even with mirrors and windows, the driver has blind spots.
  • If you drop something next to the bus, either tell the driver before you pick it up or wait for the bus to drive away.
  • When waiting for the bus, take three giant steps back from the curb to give the bus space. Wait to board your bus until the driver brings it to a complete stop, opens the door, and invites you on.

FOR TEENS

Students are about 50 times more likely to arrive at school alive if they take the bus than if they drive themselves or ride with friends according to information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Teens behind the wheel are a category unto themselves as far as safety concerns go. Often, they’re driving themselves to school or riding with a sibling or friend. Inexperience, overconfidence, and the distractions that come from passengers are all dangerous. And, if fact, two or more peer passengers more than triples the risk of a fatal crash with a teen at the wheel.

Help your teen be as safe as possible:

  • Make sure they're rested. Teens that get at least eight hours of sleep are less likely to have an accident than those who don’t.
  • Just as with younger kids, teens follow the examples set by parents, so model good driving, discuss driving expectations, and practice driving with them. 
  • Consider adding a no-passenger rule to your teen’s list. Because of their inexperience, teens need to give their full attention to driving. And two or more peer passengers more than triples the risk of a fatal crash with a teen at the wheel.

FOR MOTORISTS

It's easy to tell when school is back in session when you're driving around your neighborhood. Kids are everywhere and they're not always paying attention. That's your job as a motorist.

  • Watch for children as you back out of driveways, garages, and parking lots. During fall and winter, children may walk or ride to stops and school in darkness.
  • If you are in an unfamiliar area watch for traffic signs, school buses, and children on foot or bike.
  • Slow down and watch for children, especially near schools and bus stops. Assume children are focused on friends and school, not on their environment or vehicle traffic.
  • Know the school bus-related laws in your state. In many states, it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus from either direction. In general, bus drivers use flashing yellow lights to signal that the bus is preparing to stop and red flashing lights and a fold-out stop sign to signal that the bus has stopped and children are boarding or getting off.

The information included in this publication was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however Grinnell Mutual and its employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with any training, materials, suggestions or information provided. It is the user’s responsibility to confirm compliance with any applicable local, state, or federal regulations. Information obtained from Grinnell Mutual should not be used as the basis for legal advice or other advice, but should be confirmed with alternative sources.