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School Bus Safety Tips to Improve Back to School Safety

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety refers to school bus pick-up and drop-off as “danger zones” and have several tips for parents, students, and drivers who use or encounter a school bus stop on South Carolina roads.

It is also illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that has stopped to allow students to board or exit the bus, safety officials said.

School buses use flashing lights, mechanical signals and retractable stop signs to alert drivers at bus stops.

The SCDPS has issued the following safety rules for motorists.

  • Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
  • Red flashing lights and extended stop arm indicate that the bus has stopped and that children are getting on or off.
  • Motorist on any highway that has only two-travel lanes, one in each direction, must stop for the bus whether approaching from the front or overtaking from the rear and remain stopped until the lights are no longer activated or the bus resumes motion.
  • Motorist traveling on multi-lane roadways, which have at least two lanes of travel in each direction, must stop for the bus if overtaking the bus from the rear and remain stopped until the lights are no longer activated or the bus resumes motion, however motorist approaching a bus from the front, on this type multi-lane roadway need not stop but proceed with caution.

Safety officials also encourage parents to instruct children on how to get on and off the bus safely.

Areas around parked school buses are considered danger zones. Safety officials said the zone includes areas within teen feet from the front, sides and back of the bus. All of these areas are where children are at the greatest risk of not being seen by bus drivers and other vehicles.

Officials urge parents and students to know these safety practices listed below.

  • Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. Running to catch the bus is dangerous and can lead to injuries.
  • When the bus approaches, stand at least five giant steps (10 feet) away from the curb, and line up away from the street.
  • Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it’s okay before stepping onto the bus.
  • If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the road to a point at least five giant steps ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you and you can see the bus driver when crossing the street. Stop at the edge of the bus and look left-right-left before crossing.
  • Use the handrails to avoid falls. When getting off the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags and backpacks with straps don’t get caught in the handrails or door.
  • Never walk behind the bus.
  • Walk at least five giant steps away from the side of the bus.
  • If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up, because the driver might not be able to see you.

School bus safety also includes behavior on the school bus. Officials have released the following safety rules for students in transit.

  • Always sit fully in the seat and face forward
  • Never distract the driver
  • Never stand on a moving bus
  • Obey the driver
  • Speak in a low voice, no screaming or shouting
  • Never stick anything out the window (arms, legs, head, book bags, etc.)

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