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Safety Standards for Short Bus Transportation

Students should always wait at their designated bus stop, unless otherwise approved by the transportation coordinator. When a student is ready to board the bus, they should stand back and watch the driver until the stop arm comes out or they see the flashing red light. Once the driver is certain that all traffic has stopped, they will signal that it is safe to cross. Ideally, the driver will remain in their seat and supervise the crossing, but this is not always possible or practical. If this is the case, bus attendants should assist by getting out of the driver’s seat and surveying traffic to ensure that all traffic has stopped.

It is extremely important that students arrive at their bus stops well before the scheduled departure time. Last minute arrivals create traffic hazards, put other pedestrians at risk and may result in schedule delays.

Once on the bus, children should sit quietly and keep feet, hands and books out of the aisles. They should avoid any behavior that disturbs other passengers or distracts the driver, such as loud talking, singing, clapping, yelling or playing with toys or other objects. Students should never tamper with any emergency equipment on the bus including lights, horns, fire extinguishers and first aid equipment. They should also be aware that they should not tuck any clothing with drawstrings or book bags into the seat belts as these items could get caught in the seat belt buckles or doors and become a hazard to other passengers.

While buses are much safer than cars or light trucks, school bus accidents still happen every year. Most of these accidents are caused by other vehicles, especially private passenger cars, vans and large trucks. Children are the most at risk as they are often unbuckled and unable to escape from the vehicle in a timely manner.

Safety standards have been established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and must be followed by all school districts and bus companies. Those standards include having a stop at a location where visibility is maximized by being on an upgrade, evaluating the slope of the road surface and truck traffic, determining real vs. posted speed and reviewing the type of traffic that is expected at each location, among other factors.

The NHTSA has also determined that seats must be designed and constructed to distribute crash forces differently than in passenger cars, light trucks and vans. Larger, heavier buses provide more protection for their occupants than smaller vehicles because they are built with stronger, tightly-spaced seats that have energy-absorbing seat backs.

All bus riders are required to use seat belts immediately upon boarding the bus and throughout the ride, until the bus arrives at its destination. Additionally, all riders must obey all driver instructions, which may address behavior, seat selection and other safety and welfare matters. Finally, all passengers must demonstrate respect for their fellow bus riders, bus stop neighbors and their property, as well as the tranquility of the neighborhood.