School Bus Safety

“Is my child safe on the school bus?” That question is one that every parent has a right to ask. The answer, according to the Federal Department of Transportation, is an emphatic “yes.” Statistically speaking, the school bus is one of the safest means of transportation around—even safer than the family car.

Several factors combine to give school buses their reputation for safety. Chief among them are the extensive licensing and education credentials required of school bus drivers. Another is the fact that school buses themselves are sturdy vehicles.

Guilderland bus drivers do their best to maintain order and ensure a safe trip. But they cannot do the job alone—it takes the cooperation of parents and children.

So what can parents do to make their children’s bus ride a safe experience?

  • Make sure your child gets to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is supposed to arrive and dress them properly in the event of bad weather (e.g. raincoats in rainy weather or coats, hats and gloves in cold weather). Above all else, tell your children not to run after a missed school bus—doing so can be dangerous!
  • If your child has to cross a street either before getting on or after getting off the bus, instruct him or her to wait for the driver to give a signal. Remind them to always maintain eye contact with the driver when boarding and disembarking from the bus.
  • Talk to your child about the limits of a bus driver’s vision. A driver cannot see anyone within 10 feet of the bus bumper. That’s why students should stay back at least 10 giant steps from the bus before boarding and quickly get away from the bus after disembarking.
  • Stress safety over forgotten clothing or lost homework. Children should never reach for something (like a homework paper) that has fallen beneath the bus. Likewise, they should not attempt to go back on the bus for a hat or a lunch box left behind. Many children will do this because they are afraid they will be in trouble. Parents can help by assuring them that it’s more important to be safe.
  • Keep safety in mind when choosing children’s clothing. Items with drawstrings or straps can get caught on handrails as children exit or enter a bus. This is especially true during fall and winter, when children wear bulkier clothing.
  • Remind children to obey the bus driver, stay seated when the bus is in motion, talk quietly, keep the aisles clear of books, arms and legs, and show respect to the driver and their fellow passengers.

Remember—a safe and enjoyable bus ride makes for a great start to the day. And a great start to the day improves the chances that students will come to school with an open mind ready to learn.

Seat belts on the bus

Student Use of Seat Belts (Education Law 3635-a 1)

“A board of education or board of trustees may, in its discretion, following a public hearing for the purpose of determining whether resolution shall be adopted, provide for the use of seat belts on school buses…”

The Guilderland Board of Education voted against mandatory seat belt use for students in this district, with the exception of students on small transportation vehicles.*

*Note: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that passengers in small school buses (10,000 gross vehicle weight rating or less) should be required to wear seat belts.

Video cameras on the bus

Video cameras may be used to monitor and record behavior on Guilderland Central School District vehicles transporting students to and from school or extracurricular activities. The district shall comply with all applicable state and federal laws related to personal records when recordings are considered for retention. Video recordings shall be used primarily for the purpose of evidence for maintaining discipline. However, the district may use recordings for any other purpose deemed appropriate.

Medications on the bus

Medication (this includes Tylenol and other cold medicines) may not be transported on school vehicles. If your child needs medication, please deliver it directly to the nurse’s office at your child’s school.

Motorists’ responsibilities

Drivers have a responsibility to help maintain the safety of children. When approaching a school bus, drivers must:

Slow down: Flashing yellow lights warn that the bus is about to stop. You should begin to slow your vehicle and prepare to stop.

Stop: From either direction, even on divided highways – when a school bus is stopped with its red lights flashing.

Proceed: Only when the red lights are turned off and bus is again moving, or when waved on by driver or police officer.

Be aware: Children may be approaching a stopped school bus from any direction.

Remember: School buses may not turn right on red while transporting students.

NOTE: It is illegal to pass a school bus displaying its flashing red lights—both on and off school property. If convicted of passing a stopped school bus, the minimum fine is $250–400 and/or 30 days in jail for the first offense. Drivers convicted of passing a stopped school bus will also receive a 5-point infraction on their license for each violation. This law is strictly enforced, and all violators will be fully prosecuted.

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