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School Safety Tips Every Parent Should Know

Here they are!

  • School’s back in session and it’s natural for parents to worry about their children riding the bus.
  • If they familiarize themselves and their kids with safety measures, it’s sure to be less stressful.
  • An expert in school bus safety shared some reassuring tips with Insider.

Putting their child on the school bus can be an anxious experience for many parents, particularly at the start of the new academic year.

It’s easy to worry about their welfare when you hand over such “precious cargo” to the driver of the bus.

But, according to Jonathan Bentley, managing director of the non-profit Pupil Transportation Safety Institute, such fears can be avoided if parents understand the measures taken to avoid accidents by school transportation departments and their staff.

“There is a lot of action behind the scenes.” Bentley told Insider, adding, ” School districts employ strict rules and regulations because nothing could be more important than the safety of children.”

He said that parents who know the protocols should be reassured and feel more confident about the daily journey to and from school.

Still, he said, they can help prioritize their kids’ safety by following his list of suggestions.

Trust the bus driver

School bus drivers must first obtain federal qualifications including an entry level driving training and road and driving range certification. But they can only get behind the wheel of a school bus after getting their commercial driver’s license. “It varies between states but there’s pre-service and other regulatory milestones to hit before they’re able to drive kids,” Bentley said.

“A lot of parents don’t realize this, but school transportation departments spend much of the summer conducting child safety zone studies and selecting bus routes that are the safest and most efficient,” Bentley added.

He said the vetted drivers attend safety courses so they’re familiar with protocols like checking that no kid is left on the bus — “they sometimes hide under the seats to skip school!” Bentley noted — and that children are met by the right people at drop-off.

Make sure your kid’s clothing and backpack straps aren’t loose

Bentley said that parents should check their kids’ clothing before they board the bus in case there are loose items that could get trapped in the door, handrails, or seats. “You have to think about dangling items like drawstrings and scarves,” he said.

He also advised parents to tighten the straps on their children’s backpacks. “When the doors shut, they’re very strongly sealed and can grab onto a backpack. It’s dangerous,” Bentley said.

Teach your child how to behave on the bus.

Bentley said one of the biggest risks faced by drivers is distraction. “Some of these buses hold 60 or 70 children,” he said. “There’s a lot going on at one time.”

He urged parents to tell their kids to treat the bus like a “mobile classroom” with no eating or drinking and unruly behavior such as standing on the seats, throwing things out of the windows, or fighting.

“It’s vital that the children on the bus respect the driver,” Bentley went on. “If the driver can hear screaming kids behind them, they’re not going to be able to focus on the road as well.

He recommends telling children to use “inside voice” just like they do in their classroom.

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