Today marks the fifth and final day of National School Bus Safety Week, October 20–24, 2014, an annual public education event designed to promote school bus safety. This week, school districts across the country have held events and shared important information to educate the public about student safety on and around the school bus.
Emergencies on the School Bus
According to the US Department of Transportation, school buses are the safest form of transportation for getting children to and from school, but accidents happen. It is important for parents and teachers to educate their students about how to act in an emergency on the bus.
Tip 1: Know the Bus Driver and Attendant Training
OSSE DOT trains bus drivers and attendants in the following competency-based core training to ensure that the team is prepared for an emergency while the bus is in transport:
- First Aid
- Choking treatment techniques
- Procedure for assisting during a seizure
- Crisis prevention and intervention
- Behavior management
- Customer service training
- Student-specific disabilities and special accommodations (lifting and transporting students with physical disabilities)
- Safety precautions and emergency procedures
Tip 2: Know the emergency evacuation plan
In the event of an emergency, drivers and attendants:
- Ensure the students’ safety – evaluate the need for medical or emergency assistance.
- Contact terminal dispatch – communicate any need for assistance. Dispatch will call 911.
- Assess the need to evacuate the bus
- Calmly direct students to the exit – the attendant will assist students in wheelchairs.
- Open the appropriate emergency exits – front/rear doors, emergency hatches or window exits.
- Assign helper students – ask one or two able students to assist in helping others off the bus and keep them together at a safe distance from the road.
- Establish a gathering location – a spot at least 100 feet away from the bus where students can wait for emergency assistance or alternative transportation; it should be a safe distance from traffic.
Tip 3: Reinforce proper behavior on the bus
The bus driver’s No.1 responsibility is to transport students safely. When students sit quietly and respectfully, the driver is better able to focus on driving. Teaching students to behave properly on the bus is not only important for their social development, it is imperative for their safety on the bus. Reinforce these behavior rules in the car and on public transportation:
- Listen to the bus driver and attendant; they are there to keep you safe
- Do not shout on the bus
- In case of an emergency, follow the driver’s and attendant’s instructions
- If you have to exit the bus during an emergency, stay in the designated gathering location until the driver or attendant gives you further instruction
More resources on school bus safety:
Transportation Handbooks for Parents and Guardians – OSSE Division of Student Transportation
Safety Tips for Motorists – National Safety Council
Driving Laws by State – AAA Digest of Motor Laws
“School Bus Safety: Be Prepared, Not Scared” – US Department of Transportation
School Bus Safety Tips – Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia
Traffic Safety Toolkit – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration