The first time that most Chicago area parents put their kids on a school bus is a big milestone, and probably one that's more frightening for them than for their little ones. While school bus drivers are tasked with the safety of their passengers both in and around the vehicles, it's still essential to teach your children some very important safety precautions to help minimize the danger of an unfortunate and perhaps even tragic accident.
When preparing to board the bus, both at the bus stop and at school, kids should stand away from the curb and wait until the bus has come to a complete stop. Three very large steps back from the curb is generally a good, safe distance.
They should hold the handrails while boarding the bus and do so in single file. Kids should ensure that the straps of their backpacks as well as any drawstrings, cords, sports gear or school projects don't get caught in the doors.
While the bus is moving, children should remain seated. When they arrive at school or at their stop, they shouldn't get up until the bus has fully stopped.
The necessary precautions for boarding the bus are also essential when children are exiting it. Tell your children that if they drop something on the ground while exiting to make sure to tell the driver before they pick it up to ensure that the driver sees them and doesn't drive off until they're a safe distance away from the bus.
The moments after getting off the bus can be the most potentially dangerous for kids. If they need to cross the street, teach your kids never to walk behind the bus, but in front of it where the driver can see them.
They also need to watch for other drivers. A good rule for pedestrians of any age when crossing the street is to look left, then right and then left once more before stepping into the street, even at a marked crosswalk. They should also make eye contact with any drivers in the area, even if they're stopped, to ensure that the drivers see them.
If your child has suffered an injury or worse while on or around a school bus and the driver is at fault, he or she as well as the school system and other entities may be able to be held criminally and/or civilly liable.
Source: Safekids.org, "School Bus Safety Tips," accessed Jan. 14, 2016