School Bus Safety

Safety is the driving purpose for school buses The National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Department of Transportation and other authorities agree that school buses are the safest form of transportation for getting children to and from school.

All of us at Palmetto Bus Sales encourage parents, teachers, students, administrators, community leaders and other residents to learn more about the pivotal role the yellow school bus plays in the lives of school children.

Here are just a few facts regarding school buses to learn and share with those around you. This information is provided by the American School Bus Council, one of the leading industry associations:

  • Some 475,000 school buses carry 25 million children — more than half of America’s schoolchildren — each day, rarely with any serious accident.
  • Safety features including the color and size of school buses, height, reinforced sides, flashing red lights, cross view mirrors, and crossing and stop sign arms ensure children are protected and secure on and off the bus.
  • School bus drivers are highly trained professionals who have your child’s safety in mind. They receive specialized training in student behavior management, loading and unloading, security and emergency medical procedures.
  • Drivers participate in pre-employment and random drug/alcohol testing, as well as frequent driving record checks, and submit to background checks and periodic medical exams to keep their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) with a School Bus Endorsement.
  • The school bus industry operates by a set of safety, security, health and driver qualification guidelines that meet, and in some cases exceed, federal and state laws, and ensure that school buses are the safest mode of transportation for our nation’s schoolchildren.
  • School buses abide by a host of federal, state and local regulations that govern their production, maintenance and operation.
For more information, please visit: The American School Bus Council website.

Tips for Parents and Children

School buses are nearly eight times safer than passenger vehicles. But children must take care when boarding or leaving the bus. While an average of seven school-age passengers are killed in
The danger zone school bus crashes each year, 19 are killed getting on and off the bus.

Most of those killed are children, 5 to 7 years old. They are hit in the danger zone around the bus (A), either by a passing vehicle or by the school bus itself. It is illegal for a vehicle to pass a bus with its red light flashing.

The Danger Zone (illustration A at right) is the area on all sides of the bus where children are in the most danger of being hit. Children should stay ten feet away from the bus (or as far away as they can) and never go behind it. They should take five giant steps in front of the bus before crossing, so they can be seen by the driver.

Young children are most likely to be hit because they:
  • Hurry to get on or off the bus
  • Act before they think and have little experience with traffic
  • Assume motorists will see them and will wait for them to cross
  • Don't always stay within the bus driver's sight
  • Drop something as they get off the bus and run into the path of the bus to pick it up

When getting on the bus, stay away from the danger zone and wait for the driver's signal. Board the bus one at a time.

When getting off the bus, look before stepping off the bus to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder (side of the road). Move away from the bus.

Before crossing the street, take five "giant steps" out from the front of the bus, or until the driver's face can be seen (A). Wait for the driver to signal that it's safe to cross.

Look left-right-left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped. Keep watching traffic when crossing.


Supervise children to make sure they get to the stop on time, wait far away from the road, and avoid rough play.

Teach your child to ask the driver for help if he/she drops something near the bus. If a child bends down to pick up something, the driver cannot see him/her and the child may be hit by the bus. Have your child use a backpack or book bag to keep loose items together.

Make sure clothing and backpacks have no loose drawstrings or long straps, to get caught in the handrail or bus door.

Encourage safe school bus loading and unloading.

If you think a bus stop is in a dangerous place, talk with your school office or transportation director about changing the location.

learn and follow safety laws LEARN AND FOLLOW SCHOOL BUS STOP LAWS:

Laws exist to protect children getting on and off the bus AND protect you from a tragedy. Check with your school or police department for more information on your state's laws. Here are some rules:
  • Vehicles must stop when the bus displays flashing red warning lights and extends the stop signal arm (B). Vehicles may not pass until the flashing red lights and signals are turned off.
  • Vehicles traveling in the same direction as the bus are always required to stop. In some states, vehicles moving in the opposite direction on a divided roadway are also required to stop. Check the law in your state.
  • Never pass on the right side of the bus, where children enter or exit. This is illegal and can have tragic results. Violation of these laws can result in a citation and fine. In many places, school bus drivers can report passing vehicles.
For more information, contact the DOT Auto Safety Hotline at 1-888-DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4236) or Illustrations from Indiana University School of Medicine.