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School bus safety tips issued through HCDE’s Center for Safe and Secure Schools

Student Mason Arnold, 5, practices getting off the school bus safely with the assistance of Harris County Department of Education ABC East bus driver and teacher Linda Woodson. Back-to-school readiness includes bus safety and etiquette.

As the school year begins, Harris County Department of Education’s Center for Safe and Secure Schools sends some reminders about school bus safety measures. According to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration, taking the school bus to school is almost eight times safer than riding in a car to school.

“Still, it’s good to remember the basic safety precautions and that younger children ages 5-7 are most at risk for school bus related accidents,” said HCDE County School Superintendent John E. Sawyer.

Here are tips for parents to discuss with their children to reduce risk of bus injuries.  These include “bus etiquette”:

• Talk to your kids about bus safety and respect. Ridership is a privilege. It can be taken away due to bad behavior, so check with your school district about established guidelines. Refer to the policy as “school bus behavior policy” and go over it with your child.

• Dress appropriately for the weather. Many buses are not air-conditioned.

• Be at the bus stop at least 5 minutes before the bus is set to arrive. Tardiness can lead to mistakes in safety measures. Examples might be running in front of the bus; running back to find something left on the bus; or bending over or bending down to retrieve something dropped while getting off of the bus.

• Kids should follow the five giant steps rule:  Be five giant steps back from where the bus actually stops until it comes to a complete stop and the driver opens the door.

• Backpacks/bags need to be fully closed and sized appropriately for the child to prevent safety hazards such as dragging straps.

• Always stay seated on the bus. Teach your child to stay in the seat until the bus comes to a complete stop at your child’s destination.

• Show appreciation to the bus driver. Remind your kids to say thank you when they get off. Kindness and good manners go a long way.

• Railroad crossings require drivers to stop, to open the door and to make sure the coast is clear. Teach your kids to be extra quiet during these times.

• Go over your child’s bus routine. Describe the location and street where your child should get off. For younger kids, write down their names, bus number, bus stop and where you may be reached and put that information inside their backpack. Help your children memorize your cell telephone number; putting it to song can help.

• Don’t hang out of the window.  Keep body parts inside the bus!

• Bullying should never be tolerated.  Talk to your child about bullying on the bus. Read your district’s school bus behavior policy to understand to whom you should report such bullying. It may be the driver, teacher, principal or someone else.


About the Center for Safe and Secure Schools: The Center is a division of Harris County Department of Education. Set goals of the Center include being a leader in developing increased safety and security strategies in school environments for students and educators.  Accomplishing these goals depends on focusing on the emergency management cycle which includes: prevention/mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.  Services include setting standards for best practices; emergency management planning and operations; communications, coordination and business continuity; training and certification programs; and facility safety and security assessments, reviews and audits.

About HCDE:  Harris County Department of Education provides education services to the general public and 25 school districts throughout Harris County and beyond. Services include adult education, programs to promote safe schools, after-school programs, therapy services, professional development for educators, special schools, alternative certification for principals and teachers, Early Childhood Intervention and Head Start programs. We offer purchasing procurement, grant development, program research and evaluation, records management, and school finance support. Since 1889, our services continue to evolve to meet the needs of our education public. Visit us at



Carol Vaughn

713-696-0756, office or 281-660-9205, cell


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