How Can You Keep Kids Safe at the Bus Stop?
Millions of American children ride buses to and from school every day, and many parents worry about their kids’ safety. While many parents will accompany younger children to and from their bus stops, some parents’ work schedules prevent this and kids will eventually be able to manage getting to and from their buses on their own as they get older. When kids start walking on their own to and from their bus stops, parents should make sure they know how to stay safe for every trip. Consider the following tips for keeping your kids safe at the bus stop if they walk to and from their bus stops alone or if they will be old enough to do so the next school year.
Prepare Ahead During Your Morning Routine
Some kids may have trouble waking up early for school, but it’s important for parents to develop morning routines that get their kids up and moving at a reasonable time. Ideally, students should aim for arriving at their bus stops around five minutes before the pickup time. Parents should allow for extra time during inclement weather and account for snow and ice accumulation that may make the walk to the bus more dangerous.
Many bus stop-related injuries happen from slips, trips, and falls. Unfortunately, some children also suffer injuries from passing motorists when drivers fail to slow down around bus stops or when children cross streets without looking or dart into the road.
Encourage Good Habits Early
When parents walk their children to and from the bus stop during the early school years, these walks are good opportunities to teach children good habits for getting to and from the bus safely on their own. Planning for kids to arrive at their bus stop around five minutes before pickup time is a good idea; kids won’t feel rushed on their way to the bus and will be less likely to run or forget to look before crossing.
A child could suffer serious injuries if he or she is about to miss the bus and feels the need to hurry. For example, a child could usually be very good about remembering to look both ways before crossing a street when he or she leaves at the usual time. If the child leaves the house late one day and feels rushed, he or she may run to the bus stop or forget to look before crossing a street.
Discourage Complacency and Have Backup Plans
Parents should encourage situational awareness at all times. A child may grow complacent walking to and from the bus stop on the same route every day and fail to notice a car or obstacle that leads to an injury. Most school bus stops are in residential areas that typically don’t have speed limits above 30 mph, and it may be hard to hear vehicles moving at these speeds. When parents teach their children to stay alert while walking to and from the bus, they can avoid many preventable injuries, including catastrophic injuries from cars.
Parents should make sure their kids know their addresses, nearby street names, and other landmarks in case they ever become lost. If a child is too young to handle a cell phone, the parents should make sure the child has some way to contact them during an emergency or if they miss the bus after the parent has left for work, such as keeping the parents’ phone numbers written inside a planner or schoolbag. Children should know at least two different routes to the bus stop in the event of road construction or another temporary obstacle that blocks the usual route. With planning and emphasis on alertness and caution, parents can help their kids prevent serious injuries on the way to and from their school buses.