All 50 states have a law making it illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.

School buses use yellow flashing lights to alert motorists that they are preparing to stop or load or unload children.  

Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm signals to motorists that the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off the bus.

The area 10 feet around a school bus is where children are in the most danger of being hit.  Stop your car far enough from the bus to allow children the necessary space to safely enter and exit the bus.

Be alert.  Children are unpredictable.  Children walking to or from their bus are usually very comfortable with their surroundings.  This makes them more likely to take risks, ignore hazards or fail to look both ways when crossing the street.

Simple reminders for Drivers

  • Slow down and be especially alert in the residential neighborhoods and school zones.  Always anticipate that a child might bolt in front of your vehicle.
  • Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.  Look for safety patrols, school buses, and other signs that children could be in the area.
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully and scan between parked cars and other objects for children who might dart out in front of your car.
  • Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.  Avoid distractions like cell phones, iPods, and other devices that can make you take your eyes off the road.

Reminders for your Kids

  • Teach children to arrive at the bus stop early, stay out of the street, wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before approaching the street, watch for cars and avoid the driver’s blind spot.
  • Remind your children to stay seated at all times and keep their heads and arms inside the bus while riding.  When exiting the bus, children should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop, exit from the front using the handrail to avoid falls and cross the street at least 10 feet (or 10 giant steps) in front of the bus.
  • Tell your child not to bend down in front of the bus to tie shoes or pick up objects, as the driver may not see him before starting to move.
  • Children under the age of 10 should walk to school with an adult or older child.  Young children often do not possess the necessary skills to judge the speed or distance of oncoming traffic.
  • Plan a walking route to school or the bus stop.  Choose the most direct way with the fewest street crossings and, if possible, with intersections that have crossing guards.
  • Walk the route with your child beforehand.  Tell them to stay away from parks, vacant lots, fields and other places where there aren’t many people around.
  • Teach your child never to talk to strangers or accept rides or gifts from strangers.  Remind your child that adults should never ask children for help, whether it is help finding a lost puppy, or if they are hurt and need medical attention. Teach your child to call 911 and have police render the necessary aid requested.
  • Teach your child, whether walking, biking, or riding the bus to school – to obey all traffic signals, signs and traffic officers.  Remind them to be extra careful in bad weather.
  • When driving children to school, drop them off and pick them up as close to the school as possible.  Don’t leave until they are in the schoolyard or building.
  • If your child bikes to school make sure they wear a helmet.  Research indicates that a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85 percent.
  • Be sure that your child knows his or her home phone number and address, your work number, the number of another trusted adult and how to call 911 for emergencies.
  • Instruct your child to never take a ride from any strangers even if the person says that they are there to pick them up because their mom or dad sent them.
  • Develop a family “code word.” If someone other than a parent is going to pick up a child at school unexpectedly, that person should repeat the “code word” first before the child agrees to leave the safety of the school grounds.  The code word should remain a secret and be changed should others learn of it.