First Student shares tips to help students, parents, and drivers be alert and safe during the start of the school year. Photo by Scott Goble

First Student shares tips to help students, parents, and drivers be alert and safe during the start of the school year. Photo by Scott Goble

CINCINNATI — It's back-to-school season, which means yellow buses are back on the roads.

Everyone plays a role in the safety of students on school buses, First Student officials said.

"There is an entire ecosystem of safety around school buses. This includes road signs, traffic laws, the size, weight and construction of the bus, and the skill of the driver,” said First Student President Dennis Maple. “It also includes the parents, drivers and other motorists. We all play a crucial role in ensuring students get to school safely. Please, be aware, be alert, and be safe this school year."

First Student offers the following back-to-school safety tips to students, parents, and motorists:

Top 5 bus safety tips for students:
1.    Stand back. Stay 10 giant steps away from the outside of the bus at all times. If you stand too close, the bus driver can't see you.
2.    Wait for OK to cross. Wait until your bus driver gives you the OK sign before crossing the street.
3.    Use the handrail. Heavy backpacks and wet shoes are no match for the handrail. Hold on tight when getting on and off the bus to keep from tripping or slipping.
4.    Sit the right way. Once you sit down, keep both feet flat on the floor and your back against the seat.
5.    Be still until the bus completely stops. It's fun to be first, but it's more important to be patient. Wait for the bus to completely stop before you try to get on board. And always stay in your seat while the bus is moving.

Top 5 bus safety tips for motorists:
1.    Maintain a safe distance. School buses stop frequently. Leave plenty of distance between your car and the bus in front of you so you can safely apply the brakes once lights start to flash.
2.    Stop for stop arms. Red flashing lights and an extended stop arm mean a child is entering or exiting the bus. On two-lane roadways, come to a complete stop (in either direction) until the stop arm and red lights are deactivated.
3.    Never pass from behind. Passing a stopped school bus from behind as it loads and unloads children is illegal in all 50 states.
4.    Give riders plenty of room. Children are hard to see within the 10-foot area surrounding a school bus. When stopping, help keep children safe by giving them plenty of room to get on or off the bus.
5.    Know your state laws. State laws regarding when to pass a stopped school bus on a roadway with four or more lanes can vary. To learn more, contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles.

Top 6 tips for parents of first-time riders:
1.    Read about the bus. There are lots of great children's books about buses. Read them together to allow your child to "experience" riding a school bus from the comfort of home.
2.    Explore a bus. School orientation events often offer first-time students a chance to check out the bus and go for a short ride around the community.
3.    Visit the bus stop. Before school starts, drive past your child's bus stop and review how pickup and drop-off works. Reassure your child that you or a caregiver will be by their side.
4.    Test the memory. Many kids fear that they'll never be able to find their bus without mom or dad. Help your child remember his or her bus number and write it down in case he or she forgets.
5.    Introduce your child. A quick hello will help your bus driver learn your child's name and help your child recognize the driver in the bus line.
6.    Show your excitement. Children take cues from their parents — celebrate your child's first bus ride with big hugs, high fives, and lots of pictures.

Additional tips can be found at

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