Student walking home from school with backpack As kids head back to school, parents and kids shift into their daily routine of getting to and from school. If your child walks to school or rides a bus, this is a time to teach or remind your child about important safety rules.

“Parents often worry about their child’s safety while on the school bus,” says Gina Duchossois, MS, an injury prevention expert with the Injury Prevention Program at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Chair of Safe Kids Southeastern Pennsylvania. “But the real safety risks come on the way to and home from the bus, while waiting for the bus to arrive, and while getting on and off the bus.”

Walking to school or the bus stop

Before the first day of school, walk the route your child will take to get to school or the bus stop with an eye for any hazards. If anything worries you, find a route that is safer.

Practice that walk with your child. As you practice, remind your child of key street crossing rules:

  • Look left, then right, then left again
  • Always cross at the corner, in the crosswalk
  • Never cross between parked cars

Waiting for the bus

Plan your morning routine so that your child gets to the bus stop at least five minutes early, so there’s no need to rush when the bus is arriving. Teach your child to wait safely for the bus, standing far enough back from the street to be clear of traffic.

Getting on the bus

Make sure your child knows to stand back until the school bus makes a complete stop, the door has opened, and the red safety lights are flashing.

Dress your child with clothes and bags that have no loose or dragging straps that might get caught in the doors.

Practice what to do if your child drops something near or under the bus. Teach your kid to never go after dropped items. Instead, tell the bus driver.

Coming home: Getting off the bus

Make sure your child knows the key safety checks before getting off the bus:

  • Take a quick look for loose straps, or anything hanging from bags that might get caught on the handrails or in the door.
  • Look for cars before stepping off the bus, and wait until they have stopped.
  • Be sure the bus driver sees you before you walk across the street.
  • Don’t cross the center line until you have looked left, right and left again to make sure there are no cars or that all cars have stopped. Most bus drivers will let you know when it’s OK to go.
  • Beware of the danger zone: 10 feet all around the bus. The driver can’t see you in the danger zone. If you can’t see the driver’s face, the driver can’t see you.

Contributed by: Gina P. Duchossois, MS

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