By Devin Sherrill
Bryant School District Communications Director
Neighbors will soon be seeing yellow buses all over town as students return to school. What they will also notice are Bryant bus drivers dressed in yellow as part of the “Flashing Red Kids Ahead” bus safety awareness effort.
Bryant’s Transportation Director Tom Farmer has led the statewide effort.
“If we can save one child, it’s worth it,” he said. “Our bus drivers take the safety of our students very seriously… so should other drivers.”
Farmer was instrumental in getting local school districts on board and working with the Arkansas Department of Education to support the program.
“Flashing Red Kids Ahead” is the theme for the campaign. Educators, parents, school bus drivers and community leaders will be using this opportunity to remind Arkansas motorists to obey all traffic laws whenever they are near a school bus.
This special effort will also seek to remind drivers that it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus whenever its red lights are flashing and students are loading or unloading the bus. Bus drivers are expected to report motorists who violate these laws.
It’s also an important time for parents to remind students of simple safety measures to take while using bus transportation.
School Bus Safety Tips for Parents
Getting Ready for School
Have your children put everything they carry in a backpack or school bag so that they won´t drop things along the way.
Have them wear bright, contrasting colors so they will be more easily seen by drivers.
Make sure they leave home on time so they can walk to the bus stop and arrive before the bus is due. Running can be dangerous.
Walking to the Bus Stop
Walk your young child to the bus stop and have older children walk in groups. There is safety in numbers; groups are easier for drivers to see.
Practice good pedestrian behavior: walk on the sidewalk, if there is no sidewalk, stay out of the street.
If you must walk in the street, walk single file, face traffic and stay as close to the edge of the road as you can.
Stop and look left, right and then left again if you must cross the street. Do the same thing at driveways and alleys.
Exaggerate your head turns and narrate your actions so your child knows you are looking left, right and left.
Waiting at the Bus Stop
Don´t let your child play running games or push and shove at the bus stop. It is dangerous near traffic.
Make sure your child stands at least 10 feet (5 giant steps) from the road while waiting for the bus. The child will then be out of the way of traffic. Have younger children practice taking 5 giant steps to become familiar with 10 feet.
Getting On and Off the Bus
Warn children that, if they drop something, they should never pick it up. Instead, they should tell the driver and follow the driver´s instructions. If they bend over to pick up a dropped object, they might not be seen by the driver and could be hurt if the driver pulls away from the stop
Remind children to look to the right before they step off the bus. Drivers in a hurry sometimes try to sneak by busses on the right.
Teach your children to secure loose drawstrings and other objects that may get caught in the handrail or door of the bus as they are exiting.
Give your child a note or follow your school´s procedures if you would like for the child to get off at a stop other than the one they are assigned.
If you meet your child at the bus stop after school, wait on the side where the child will be dropped off, not across the street. Children can be so excited at seeing you after school that they dash across the street and forget the safety rules.
Riding the Bus
Children should talk quietly, be courteous to the driver and follow the driver´s instructions.
Children should stay seated during the entire bus ride and keep the aisles clear.