The winning poster for National School Bus Safety Week 2023 came from a Minnesota middle school student named Avrie Siedschlag. - Image: Avrie Siedschlag (Coon Rapids Middle School School)/Canva

The winning poster for National School Bus Safety Week 2023 came from a Minnesota middle school student named Avrie Siedschlag.

Image: Avrie Siedschlag (Coon Rapids Middle School School)/Canva

Safety remains a critical issue for student well-being on the school bus when they’re transported to and from school each day. This year, from Oct. 16-20, the United States recognizes National School Bus Safety Week.

Coast to Coast Calls for Student Transportation Caution

In California, 65,000 certified school bus drivers carry more than 1 million students aboard more than 22,000 buses, traveling about 200 million miles, according to the California Highway Patrol.

“Riding in a school bus is one of the safest ways for kids to travel to and from school,” said CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee. “Not only are California’s school bus drivers expected to meet high standards, but the CHP takes great pride in inspecting school buses to certify they are one of the safest vehicles on the road.”

The New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) urges drivers to take extra care when those red school bus lights start flashing. Illegal passing of stopped school buses remains a direct threat to student safety as passengers board and disembark.

3 Things to Know

1. School Bus Remains Among the Safest Modes of Transportation: They are designed with numerous safety features, including reinforced sides, high seat backs, and bright color for visibility. School bus drivers are trained extensively in safety procedures.

2. Loading and Unloading Safety is Critical: A significant portion of school bus accidents happens when students are boarding or exiting the bus. It's crucial for students to stand back from the road, wait for the bus to come to a complete stop, and only cross the street once the bus driver signals it's safe. Parents and guardians should teach and reinforce these habits with their children.

3. Stay Aware at the Wheel: School bus drivers are trained to handle various situations, including aggressive drivers and unpredictable behaviors of children. Motorists sharing the road with school buses should be cautious and always stop when the bus displays flashing red lights and a stop sign arm. Failure to stop can result in fines and, more importantly, jeopardize the safety of students.

“The illegal passing of stopped school buses continues to be a threat to the safe transportation of our student passengers and is simply unacceptable,” said NYAPT President Ted Nugent, transportation director at Coxsackie-Athens School District. “We ask motorists to drive without distraction, slow down and stop for a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing because in the end…a child’s life depends on it.”

Students aboard the yellow bus are encouraged to listen to instructions from their drivers and follow directions when crossing in front of the school bus. Parents and caregivers are asked to be patient with bus drivers and transportation providers due to strains on systems caused by the ongoing national driver shortage.

“NYAPT asks that people take time during National School Bus Safety Week to thank their school bus drivers and other school transportation professionals for providing students with a safe ride to and from school,” stated an association news release.

School Bus Safety Tips

The National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) offers the following advice for families that rely on the yellow school bus each day:

Getting Ready for School

  • Have children put everything they carry in a backpack or school bag so they won’t drop anything along the way.
  • Encourage them to wear bright, contrasting colors so they are 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 dangerous.

Walking to the Bus Stop

  • Walk young children to the bus stop or encourage children to walk in groups, which are easier for drivers to see.
  • Walk on the sidewalk. If there’s no sidewalk, stay out of the street. If you must walk on the street, walk single file, face traffic, and stay as close to the edge of the road as you can.
  • Stop and look left, 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 see them on approach. Avoid waiting in a house or car.
  • Don’t let children play in the street, particularly with balls or other toys that can roll into the path of oncoming traffic.

Getting On and Off the Bus

  • Warn children not to immediately pick something up if they drop it while boarding or disembarking the school bus. Instead, they should tell the driver and await instructions.
  • Remind children to look to the right before stepping off the bus.
  • If you meet your child at the bus stop after school, wait on the side where the child is dropped off, not across the street.

Send photos from your district's National School Bus Safety Week activities to!

About the author
Wes Platt

Wes Platt

Executive Editor

Wes Platt joined Bobit in 2021 as executive editor of School Bus Fleet Magazine. He writes and edits content about student transportation, school bus manufacturers and equipment, legislative issues, maintenance, fleet contracting, and school transportation technology - from classic yellow diesel buses to the latest EPA-funded electric, propane, and CNG vehicles.

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