“They’re going to do safe riding practices as well as safe loading, safe unloading practices and those types of things. We’re going to go to all the elementary schools and do it with the pre-K and kindergarten students, specifically targeting the youngest students,” Director of Transportation Jody Elrod said Thursday at Clear Creek Elementary School. “We have safe riding practices with all of our elementary students, but it’s a basic overview, so we wanted to break that down and get really specific and do some hands-on training with the little ones, show them the proper way to cross [the street], the proper way to get on the [school bus] steps and the ways to behave on the bus — how to keep your hands to yourself, bottom to bottom, back to back when you’re in your seats — and we think this is really going to be good for us.”
Elrod said parents also play a pivotal role in bus safety.
“If I could stress one thing to parents, especially to the little ones, is be at the bus stop with the little kids in the mornings and the afternoons,” Elrod said. “We’re very cautious and very deliberate with everything we do when the kids are loading and unloading because when they’re outside of the bus, that’s when they’re in the danger zone.”
He said parents should never drive their child to another bus stop if the child misses his initial stop and that the safest method for dealing with a missed bus ride is to simply drive their child to school.
“Ninety-nine percent of the severe accidents that happen with school-age children are not when they’re inside the bus, it’s when they’re outside the bus,” Elrod said. “When we make a stop, the kids have to make sure No. 1 that the bus is completely stopped, the stop sign is out and then they’re watching for the driver; they don’t actually come over to get on the bus until the driver instructs them to ... . They’re not bringing those kids across until they are sure the vehicles are stopped and [students] can safely cross the road.”
CCES Principal Kelly Wade said the program should further the school’s goal of helping keep students safe on and off campus by driving home the point that riding on a bus requires students to maintain good behavior and to follow the instructions of the driver.
“I think [safety training] is vital. It lets [students] know it’s very important for them,” Wade said. “I always stress to them when I get on a bus that the driver is there to pick them up, get them to school, then get them from school to home safely and there’s a reason that they go through this training.”
For additional information on school bus safety and law, visit www.gadoe.org and click on the Business and Industry tab.