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Some 25 million students nationwide begin and end their day with a trip on a school bus. Designed for safety, with flashing lights, giant mirrors, high seat backs and that bright yellow color, school buses keep more than 17 million cars away from school buildings every day.

While riding a bus to school is safer than riding in the family vehicle or walking, the National Safety Council supports the incorporation of lap and shoulder belts in school buses – and across multiple modes of transportation – to ensure the safest ride for children.

Since 2002, passenger lap and shoulder belts have been made available on school buses; California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Texas require them.

School buses are the safest way for students to travel, but children also need to do their part to stay alert and aware of their surroundings to prevent injury. NSC urges parents to teach their children the following safety rules for getting on and off the bus, and for exercising good behavior while riding.

Tips for Safety Boarding and On School Buses:
When waiting for the bus, stay away from traffic and avoid roughhousing or other behavior that can lead to carelessness
Do not stray onto the street, alleys or private property
Line up away from the street or road as the bus approaches
Wait until the bus has stopped and the door opens before approaching the bus
Use the handrail when boarding

Behavior on the Bus:
If seat belts are available on the bus, buckle up
Don’t speak loudly or make loud noises that could distract the driver
Stay in your seat
Don’t put your head, arms or hands out the window
Keep aisles clear of books and bags
Get your belongings together before reaching your stop
Wait for the bus to stop completely before getting up from your seat

Getting Off the Bus:
Use the handrail when exiting
If you have to cross in front of the bus, first walk at least 10 feet ahead until you can see the driver
Make sure the driver can see you
Wait for a signal from the driver before crossing
When the driver signals, look left, right, then left again. Walk across the road and keep an eye out for sudden traffic changes
If your vision is blocked, move to an area where you can see other drivers and they can see you
Do not cross the center line of the road until the driver signals it is safe
Stay away from the rear wheels of the bus at all times

More school-age pedestrians have been killed during the hour before and after school than any other time of day, according to NHTSA. And, although drivers are required by law to stop for a school bus when it’s loading or unloading passengers, they often don’t. Children should not rely on them to do so.

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