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School Bus Safety

School buses are the safest mode of transportation for getting children back and forth to school. Riding in a school bus is safer than walking, riding a bicycle, or being driven to school in private vehicles.

Today's school buses are built with safety in mind. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, children are protected in large school buses by compartmentalization, a passive occupant protection system. This provides a protective envelope consisting of strong, closely-spaced seats that have energy-absorbing padded seat backs that help to distribute and reduce crash forces. Compartmentalization is most effective when occupants are fully seated within the bus seat. Seating should be provided that will allow each occupant to sit on a school bus seat without any part of his or her body extending into the aisle.

The majority of bus-related deaths and injuries involve pedestrians-mostly children-who are struck by a bus or injured when they are exiting the bus to cross traffic.

School bus safety tips for drivers:

  • Prepare to stop when a slowing bus has its overhead yellow lights flashing
  • Stop at least 20 feet away for buses when red lights are flashing, unless driving in the opposite direction on a divided highway
  • Slow down in or near school and residential areas
  • Look for clues-such as safety patrols, crossing guards, bicycles, and playgrounds-that indicate children might be in the area
  • Watch for children between parked cars and other objects

School buses are like traffic signals

  • When overhead lights are flashing yellow: Prepare to stop
  • When overhead lights are flashing red: Stop
  • When hazard warning lights are flashing: Proceed with caution

School bus safety tips for students:

  • Always stay in sight of the bus driver
  • Don't hurry off the bus; check traffic first
  • Don't go back to the bus after exiting

Additional school bus safety information is available from:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

American School Bus Council 

National Safety Council