Thursday, 14 March 2013

Reviewing school bus safety with your children

We can never have too much when it comes to information about improving our own road safety tactics; after all, pointers on how to drive safely remind us that we are largely in control of how our vehicle-dependent travels go; we are certainly in complete control of what we do with our own vehicles when we drive them. This gives us peace of mind to a certain extent: when we drive, we know that we are doing everything in our power to protect our loved ones who are traveling with us. What we feel we don't have as much control over is the operation of a vehicle we're not driving, that our children will be traveling in: namely, school buses. And certainly, it isn't our hands on the wheel for those minutes that our children are being transported by someone else. Nevertheless, there is much we can do to contribute to the safe operation of these vehicles by teaching our children about school bus safety. You can discuss with your children the importance of:

Leaving for the bus stop with enough time. Get your children into the habit of leaving early with plenty of time to walk, not run, to their bus stop. (This will prep them to become safe drivers who leave themselves adequate time to drive where they need to, foregoing the “need” to speed, tailgate, and cut off fellow drivers.) Injuries are more likely to occur when your child is frantically scrambling to catch a bus—particularly in the winter when roads and walkways may be icy. Placing importance on good time management is key here, as well as emphasizing the fact that even if they are late, they should still walk, not run.

Never chasing a missed bus. Despite our best intentions, we're all going to have off mornings. Even a child who is well prepared to leave on time most mornings is going to have a morning where things don't go as planned. Make sure your child knows never to chase a bus they have missed. Instead, have a backup plan (such as coming back home if there is an adult to let them in). Your child is less likely to panic and chase the bus if they know there is a plan, and that they will be okay even if they don't get on.

Indoor voices. Noise is one of the worst distractions any driver has to deal with; for a bus driver, this distraction is (literally) amplified by the number of passengers that may potentially contribute to the noise level. It's important that your children be made aware of the need to converse quietly.

Remaining seated, forward-facing at all times. A bus full of children isn't just a potential distraction for the driver, but for the children themselves. With so much chatter and motion going on around them, children may have a hard time sitting still. While this is understandable, they also need to be made to understand that the safety features of a school bus work best to protect them if they are seated properly.

Keeping the aisle clear at all times. Blocked aisles can be tripping hazards. Additionally, in the event of an emergency, clear aisles ensure that everyone will be able to get off of the bus quickly and safely.

Only speaking to the driver when the bus is stopped. Talking to the driver at any other time is distracting and dangerous.

Never throwing or tossing objects on the bus. This can compromise the driver's ability to drive safely, and can cause injury to others on the bus.