It’s back to school time! Brush up on the ABCs of Public Transportation.
#BK2SKOOL: The ABCs of School Transportation
It’s hard to believe that the start of a new school year is just around the corner. Some children get excited about going back to school, and some want summer vacation to last forever. If you’re like most parents, you’re probably a little sad that another summer is coming to an end, but also looking forward to the routine that comes with another school year. If your little one is just starting school, there’s so much to prepare for: Back-to-school shopping, meeting the teacher, the first school bus ride, learning the ins and outs of the drop-off / pick-up routine. It can all seem overwhelming! If you’re a veteran of the back-to-school trenches then you’re already aware of the challenges of carpooling with other parents, having other kids carpool with you, field trips, science projects and homework. Whether this is your first or your fifth school year, transportation to and from school is a challenge that every parent faces. Below are a few tips to help make the ride a little smoother.
After School Playdates
One challenge you might face is sending your child home with a friend for a playdate after school. You properly buckle up your child every time you drive, but this might not be the case for other parents or caregivers. Some parents are carefree when transporting their children to and from school. Thinking that a crash won’t happen so close to home can give parents a false sense of safety when traveling to and from school. Remember, most accidents happen within a mile from home because we become comfortable with the same route we drive every day. Be sure to have this conversation with the other parents before the playdate and ask if you should provide a car seat or booster for your child. If the other parents won’t commit to properly buckling up your child, make other transportation arrangements.
Bus Rides & Field Trips
If your child will ride the bus to school, or if field trips are scheduled during the year, you might be surprised to learn that most buses do not have seat belts. Even if they do, you might not be allowed to install your child’s car seat or booster seat on the bus. Don’t worry – school buses are the safest way to get children to and from school because they are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles and the drivers are well trained. The buses are larger and heavier than most other vehicles and the crash forces are distributed throughout the bus differently than a passenger vehicle. School bus occupants are also protected by “compartmentalization.” The combination of energy-absorbent seat backs and narrow spacing creates a “compartment” that confines each occupant and protects them from injury in a crash. Bus crashes are less likely to happen than if you transported your child in a car. According to NHTSA, from 2004 to 2013, only 0.4% of all fatal motor vehicle crashes were classified as school-transportation-related. Of those fatalities, occupants of the school transportation vehicle accounted for only 8% of those fatalities. The majority of people who lost their lives in these crashes were occupants of other vehicles involved in the crashes. You can read more about NHTSA’s School Transportation-Related Crashes study.
Carpool & Drop Off
Be prepared for a few surprises when dropping your child off at school.
- Do not expect the teachers or staff in the drop-off line to unbuckle your child, especially if they are still in a 5 point harness.
- Time is of the essence! Pick-up and drop-off lines move swiftly, allowing hundreds of cars to flow through the line quickly. At the end of the school day, timing is even more important because kids and teachers are ready to leave and enjoy the afternoon.
- More than likely the staff will not buckle your child into their car seat or booster seat. You will probably be instructed to pull over, park in a parking space and buckle up your child yourself.
- Have patience! The lines will be long and the wait can seem even longer. Remember that safety is the most important priority so allow extra time to complete your mission and obey all of your school’s safety rules.
These are just some of the ABC’s of getting kids to and from school. Do you have some tips that work well for you? We’d love to hear them!