With school starting in just a few weeks, there’s a lot to think about! From shopping for school supplies to developing new routines, we know your mind is busy considering how to make this year go as smoothly as possible. One thing that’s probably been heavy on your heart is school safety—particularly school bus safety.
Your child boarding a school bus is stressful. It seems to counter everything you’ve done as a parent to this point. You’re sending them somewhere on their own with no car seat, and maybe even no seatbelt! How could the bus possibly be safe? Well, today, we’re answering that very question. So, are school buses safe?
Are School Buses Safe?
The truth is school buses are the safest vehicles on the road! According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, children traveling on buses rather than traveling by car are 70 times more likely to get to school safely. Wow!
Because of the precious cargo these buses carry, extensive measures have been taken to ensure they’re as safe as possible. This means you can have peace of mind and confidence each and every time your child steps onto a school bus. Here are the reasons school buses are such a great choice for a child’s school transportation needs:
School Bus Safety Facts
Their design features make them safer.
School buses are designed to be as conspicuous as possible. When you’re driving, you can’t miss them! They’re bright yellow with red flashing lights and each one uses an extended stop sign arm when making authorized stops. School buses’ high visibility means they’re rarely hit by inattentive drivers.
Another feature that enhances the safety of school buses are the cross-view mirrors that give bus drivers a clear view of the front and sides of the vehicle. These design characteristics aren’t on traditional vehicles, so it’s a big reason buses are so much safer than standard cars.
Special laws protect children boarding and exiting school buses.
You’re probably aware of all the laws protecting children on school buses. The law protects the passengers as they board and exit. Drivers cannot pass school buses when they flash their red lights and display their stop sign. Additionally, bus drivers must ensure they have a clear road and initiate flashers before they arrive at their stop. And of course, there are strict penalties for any driver caught breaking a safety law related to school buses. These extra legal protections make buses some of the safest vehicles out there!
School bus passengers experience less crash force in a collision.
School buses are uniquely designed to be very safe in the event of a crash. Thanks to their size and construction, they already have a physical advantage over any smaller vehicle in a crash scenario—the body of the bus absorbs a large amount of crash forces if an impact does occur, so passengers on board the bus experience lower forces. In addition, school buses are equipped with protective, energy-absorbing seats that are carefully distributed in a strategy called “compartmentalization.” These closely spaced seats keep passengers in place and prevent them from moving too much in a crash. The padding on the backs of the seats also helps distribute any impact force to lower the risk of serious injuries. These factors work very well to protect the passengers inside the bus!
It is true that if school buses are over 10,000 pounds, they don’t require seatbelts. The lack of shoulder belts definitely concerns some parents. But because of the protection of the bus seats and bus frame, the belts aren’t necessary to keep your kiddos safe. It all loops back to that compartmentalization concept! As long as all passengers are properly seated throughout the entire ride, the bus will keep them safe.
In fact, school buses are so safe that only 5% of bus collision deaths are actually passengers on the school bus. Normally, it’s the driver in the standard vehicle that is injured or killed. Long story short, buses are super safe because of their unique construction! (This is NOT true for RVs.)
School buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road.
School buses are subject to a ton of regulations and regular inspections. It’s important to every school district and city to have the safest possible vehicles driven by well-trained, attentive professionals. There are no other vehicles on the road with more regulations and oversight! So have no fear that everything on the bus is ship-shape when your child jumps on.
You can’t control what happens on the bus, but you can teach children how to respond.
Now, safety on the bus isn’t just about collision protection. Many parents also stress about bullying and exposure to unwanted behavior on buses. These concerns are totally valid. So, before your child starts their bus routine, talk to them about how to respond to unwanted interactions.
Teach them how to say no, advocate for themselves, and alert the driver if things escalate. Luckily, school bus drivers are trained to be both drivers and protectors of the children on the bus!
School bus drivers are trained and vetted.
To become a school bus driver, you need more than a valid driver’s license. Of course, the specifics vary from state to state, but the requirements are similar everywhere. Bus drivers need a high school diploma, a CDL, a passenger or bus endorsement, a clean driving record, and previous experience driving or working with kids. And even after being hired, bus drivers undergo extensive training. These drivers are SO important to the school that they are not chosen lightly!
Safety starts and ends at the bus stop.
Don’t forget that school bus safety isn’t all about riding in the bus, but boarding and exiting too! Review the journey to the bus stop many times before school starts, and set standards for your child’s behavior while waiting. Ensure your child has a healthy respect for the road and knows to walk, look both ways, and stay out of the street until gestured to board by the driver.
Also, teach them about kindness! Help make the bus stop a safe space for everyone. And if your child is old enough to wait at the bus stop without you, plan regular surprise visits to confirm your kiddo is following your safety guidelines.
School buses are the safest vehicles on the road, so you can have confidence your child will get to school safely in this powerful vessel.
Sending your kid on the school bus is a huge step, we know! It’s a big thing for them and you! It marks their transition into responsible and independent young people. If you trust your child will stay seated and have great behavior on the bus, consider sending them this way. The likelihood they’ll arrive safely is much greater on a bus than in your own vehicle. Let’s keep kids safe in the seat—even school-aged kiddos in bus seats!
Travel to school by car instead? Take a look at our blog on school car lines!
All this information might be new to you. The truth is, finding clear information on vehicle and car seat safety is really tough. That’s why we’ve created Safe in the Seat. It gives parents a one-stop shop for all the trusted info on car safety. Check out our blog for more information and follow us on Instagram for daily updates! You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.