Some of the most important Golden Rule Days of School Days are about bus safety, said John W. Worden, director of the University of Missouri Extension's Law Enforcement Training Institute.
Worden said many accidents can be prevented by reviewing bus safety rules with children before the school year begins and then periodically throughout the school year.
The most dangerous part of the bus ride is getting on and off the bus. Although bus accidents do occur, the National Safety Council, school buses are 40 times safer than the family car. Pedestrian fatalities during loading and unloading school buses account for three times as many deaths as bus crashes.
When students rush in the morning, the stage is set for mishaps. Plan so that your child can be at the bus stop at least five minutes early, Worden said.
Remind your child that visibility is key to bus safety. "If you can't see the bus driver, he or she can't see you," Worden said. "Can you see the bus driver's eyes?" If not, he or she probably can't see you.
Courtesy plays an important part in school bus safety, Worden said. Stay 10 giant steps from the curb. Wait until the bus comes to a full stop, the door opens and the bus driver gives the okay to enter. Be watchful for clothing with drawstrings or book bags that have straps or dangling objects that could get caught in the bus door when exiting the bus.
Teach your child to always walk in front of, not behind, the bus and to wait for the driver's signal to cross.
One of the newest dangers to students is the temptation to immediately get out cell phones when exiting the bus, Worden said. Students can trip while reading or sending texts. If they drop their cell phone, they may stop to pick it up and be out of the bus driver's view.
Although not all school buses are equipped with seat belts, many of the newer ones are. Parents should encourage their children to wear theirs, and the best way to do that is by parents' example of wearing belts in personal vehicles.
Parents may want to reinforce general courtesy rules before school starts, Worden said. These include being courteous and quiet so the driver is not distracted, keeping aisles clear of book bags and other tripping hazards, being on time and having book bags and personal belongings gathered before the bus reaches its stop.