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Recent tragic accidents have highlighted the need for improved school bus safety measures. In 2023, a disabled student in New Jersey died after being left unsupervised on the school bus [1]. This heartbreaking incident emphasizes the need for education and change regarding child safety on school buses when our children are out of our care. In the last 10 years, over one thousand school bus accidents have involved at least one fatality [2] – leading to a startling average of 111 deaths per year [3]

With 26 million children in the U.S. relying on school buses each day, parents rightfully expect their kids to be transported safely [4]. Between bus crashes and general in-vehicle negligence, school districts, bus drivers, and legislators must take action to update safety protocols, enhance driver training, and implement stronger oversight. This is not just an issue for those with disabled or special needs children – it is an urgent call to action to better protect all children in our communities.

Role of Parents in Keeping Children Safe on Buses

When You’re On The Road

Parents play a vital role in keeping all children safe, not just their own. When driving near bus stops or approaching a school bus, it is critical to slow down, pay attention, and stop a full 20 feet behind the bus if it is stopped [5]. The area around a school bus is the greatest danger zone, so come to a complete stop and wait until the bus begins moving again before proceeding. Rushing past stopped buses, ignoring signals, or not allowing proper distance puts the lives of children at risk. We all have a duty to drive cautiously near school buses. By being patient and vigilant, parents can help prevent injuries and set a positive example for other drivers.

Getting On And Off The School Bus

Parents also play a critical role in reinforcing school bus safety with their children. Parents can do this by advising kids to stand at least 10 feet from the curb while waiting for the bus and only to approach the school bus once it comes to a complete stop, as recommended by the NHTSA [6]. You can also purchase reflective backpacks and clothing to improve visibility, especially if your child walks to the bus stop or waits for the bus in the early morning hours. 

If your child has Autism or another form of disability, it is recommended for a parent or guardian to accompany them to the bus stop. This ensures they have made it safely onto the bus and that any requested accommodations are being made.

Preparing Your Child To Ride The School Bus

Proper preparation at home also helps ensure school bus safety. All children should learn to follow the driver’s instructions without delay or distraction in an emergency and to prevent putting others at risk. For autistic children, role-play core bus procedures like boarding, staying seated, and disembarking. Request consistency in bus drivers whenever possible, as familiarity can help your child feel more comfortable. Consistency in drivers can also ensure that your child receives the appropriate care and attention.

Open communication with the school and bus driver ensures they understand your child’s needs. Inform staff upfront of any special needs, medical conditions, sensory issues, behavioral challenges, or mobility assistance required. Establishing safety habits through repetition makes bus transportation less stressful for special needs kids. With proper preparation and awareness, parents can partner with districts and drivers to help prevent tragedies.

Recent Tragedies Highlight Need for Improved School Bus Safety - Protecting Our Kids on the Road. Learn the Role of Parents, Drivers, and School Districts

The Role of Drivers & School Districts in Preventing School Bus Tragedies

School districts and bus drivers play a key role in keeping students safe by implementing and applying intensified training and safety procedures. Drivers can increase the safety of their buses by conducting pre-trip inspections, adhering to all traffic laws, and maintaining a heightened awareness of their surroundings.

School districts hold a significant responsibility in protecting our children from harm. School districts should implement rigorous training focused on special needs, defensive driving skills, and emergency response to keep skills sharp. Regular evacuation and accident preparedness drills ensure an appropriate response during a crisis. By making school bus safety a top priority, districts can help prevent tragedies.

Important Information in The Event of A Bus Accident

Quick action is critical in the traumatic event that a child is injured in or by a school bus. 

If you witness the accident, notify the bus driver and school officials immediately, call 911 right away, and only administer first aid if properly trained. Do not move the victim unless necessary to prevent further injury.

If the victim is autistic, use simple, direct language and a calm, quiet tone when communicating. Limit extra sensory stimulation and commotion at the scene, which can cause further stress. Speak slowly and provide reassurance that help is on the way. Staying composed and avoiding overstimulation aids an autistic child’s understanding and recovery during an incident.

In the aftermath of a bus accident, you, as the parent or guardian, can be left in a state of shock, confusion, and grief. Medical bills can pile up quickly, and caring for an injured child can be a full-time affair, causing you to lose money at work. If you are seeking justice or closure for your child, it is critical to contact a personal injury law firm that is knowledgeable in bus accidents to help you and your child receive everything you deserve and need to help them heal [7].

Working Together to Protect Our Kids

Teamwork and communication between parents, school officials, and bus drivers are critical for avoiding tragedies. Parents can better prepare children and partner closely with districts and drivers to address needs by implementing training and procedures at home and on the school bus. Our partnered efforts can help create reliable and secure school bus transportation nationwide. We can work together to protect all students with vigilance and proper precautions.









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