Teach Kids School Bus and Pedestrian Safety Again and Again

Passing a stopped school bus is against the law in every state except in special circumstances. If you are unsure in a particular instance, it is safer (and less expensive) to be on the safe side and stop. Check the links below for the laws in your state.

“Okay, kids, what is the giant-step rule?”

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | January 14, 2015

Parents tell children about pedestrian and school bus safety but there is still a good chance they have forgotten what was said.

• My older brother was hit by a pickup truck crossing the street to our bus stop – and lived.
• A friend and I were hit by a car crossing the street to school in the rain; Shelia held the umbrella so we would not get wet and we did not see the car – we were both hospitalized and lived.
• Randy Mahew, a six-year-old friend of our family, ran across the road in front of his house to catch the bus after kissing his mother good-bye and was struck by a car – Randy died.
• A classmate’s dress tail was caught in the door of a bus and she was dragged several feet – she eventually recovered from her injuries.
• My brother-in-law stepped off the curb in Lima, Peru and was struck by a delivery truck – Lucho died.
• As I left a store and headed to the car once, six-year-old Katie, impulsive as she was, broke free of my hand and darted into the path of an oncoming car. Luckily, the driver was alert and able to prevent an accident.

These accidents are all too common but each one could have been prevented. As a child, the only training we had about pedestrian safety was our parents saying ‘don’t go into the street’ and you know how meaningful that warning was.

The problem with children is the lesson does not imprint on their still-developing brains until they are much older plus kids can be impulsive. When parents say, ‘Good-bye honey, be careful,’ it becomes routine and is forgotten soon after the door closes. Here are a few things parents can do to keep children safe:

Teach children the giant-step rules. Instructions such as ‘stay a safe distance from the curb’ do not mean much to children, their perception of distance may be off by several feet. Teach children in terms that are clearer to them: ONE GIANT STEP is equal to about TWO FEET.
• When the school bus approaches children should stand at least THREE GIANT STEPS (6 feet) from the curb.
• Danger zones for a school bus are ten feet on all sides of the bus; children need to be at least FIVE GIANT STEPS (10 feet) from the bus when walking around the bus or to cross the street in front of the bus.

Accompany young children to the bus stop or to school, drilling them along the way: “How many steps from the curb?” “Which way do you look?” “If you drop something getting off the bus, what do you do?” “You wait for the bus to do what before you step toward the curb?” and so on. Pretty soon kids are reciting safety rules all the way to and from school.

Parents can vary salutations in a manner that children will remember; instead of, “Good-bye honey, be careful,” try rhyming or singing school bus safety rules.

Watch fun videos with children that highlight safety rules from the library, YouTube, purchase online and so on. You can use Google or YouTube and search for “school bus safety children” or “pedestrian safety children” and you will get many resources to share with kids.

One risk to children is the number of motorists who ignore stopped school buses and sometimes don’t even slow down. Reporter Jeff Rossen recently rode behind a school bus as it carried children from school and it was surprising how many vehicles zoomed past the stopped bus.

There is new technology available to equip buses with cameras that will record errant motorists and automatically send fines in the mail. Drivers who wish to complain will have a link to a website where they can view the evidence.

Until the technology reaches every school bus, citizens can share information about the issue with friends and family. Below are links to reliable information and videos for parents and children along with posters to share on social media.

Digest of Motor Laws: School Buses

NBC Today Show & Jeff Rossen: New Technology Targets Drivers Passing Stopped School Buses

Let’s Go Walking! Lesson 4: School Bus Safety

School Bus Safety Video

The day Katie ran in front of that car, I could imagine all our lives changing forever – our impulsive, joy-filled little darlings deserve better. Their safety is all our duties.

*You may share any of these posters on social media. That excludes the image above that is credited to “Let Ideas Compete.”

When the pavement is solid across the highway – no break by an island, a concrete barrier or grassy median – then you must stop and wait until the bus’ blinking lights are off and the stop-arm taken in before proceeding.

When a divided highway is broken by a grass median, a cement barrier or raised space as in an island then motorists may proceed with caution. Check the link above to learn the exact laws in your state.

The most dangerous areas of a school bus is within ten feet and around the front and back near the wheels where they cannot be seen. Kids cannot accurately measure distance so teach young children to measure by counting giant steps: One giant step is equal to about two feet.

Laws concerning school buses were put in place to protect children who may be inattentive, impulsive or careless. To break any of those laws can cost you hard-earned dollars or a child’s life.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Let Ideas Compete Under Flicker/CC License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS

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About Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

Jackie has volunteered for more than twenty years for children and family issues. Currently she writes for parents in the "Reminder" and "Parent Rap" Facebook page. If you are interested in receiving the "Reminder," send her a message.
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13 Responses to Teach Kids School Bus and Pedestrian Safety Again and Again

  1. saymber says:

    Kids aren’t born street crossing saavy. Whenever I’m with children and we are going to cross the street, I remind them to look both ways before crossing. I do it myself to lead by example. Excellent post!


    • Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says:

      Thank you, Saymber, most kids are clueless about dangers around buses and streets but constantly reminding them can help. Because kid’s perception with time, distance and risk is not fully developed until much later in life, as parents we must fill that gap until we see they are ready to safely assume full responsibility.

      Katie studied in Italy for a year and I did not worry about muggers or pickpockets, the only thing I really worried about was her being safe while walking about. Chelsey on the other hand, was careful from an early age. My brother-in-law Lucho was in his mid-thirties when he was killed so that shows me that we must all pay more attention around something as dangerous as vehicles.

      Thank you again for your comment!


  2. Great article and awesome info-graphics explaining how it is when coming to a school bus stopping on the road.

    Many times I will be in a school zone, which is 20 miles an hour with yellowing blinking light, and others will be irritated because I take the miles per hour sign literally. They speed up and go around. I always wonder if they have any children, how they would feel if their child was struck by a car in a school or school bus zone with someone driving like them.

    My two boys are out of school now (22 and 18 ) but I still respect the zone, not just because it is the law, but because of respect for the parents and their children that are still in school. Just as I was always worried about my children before and after school, because of traffic, I know the parents with young children today, have the same fears.

    Thanks Jackie for a great article!! 🙂



    • Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says:

      Thank you, Randy. I think many others would express similar sentiments. Some impatient drivers risk lives to speed around those going the speed limit and I hope they never hit a child. If that happens, you can only imagine their sorrow and regret that will last a lifetime at the needless death of a small child.

      School zones are the law of the land so we must remind others about stopped buses. You, for instance, can remind your sons as they go about to watch out for buses and impulsive children. The woman who hit my friend and I was in a bad way after we were carried by ambulance to the hospital. I ran into her while shopping one day when I was about 35 years old; she scolded me for scaring the life out of her (I still smile thinking of her).

      Thank you again, Randy for your thoughtful comments. 😉

      All my best,



    • Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says:

      Thank you, Jueseppi! It is so important for folks to remember to stop when they come upon a stopped school bus. When in doubt… STOP!


  3. List of X says:

    Maybe if cameras on school buses caught passing drivers, and money from the fines went to the schools, that would also help with the problem of school underfunding.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jackie Saulmon Ramirez says:

      That is an excellent idea! 🙂 I think you should send that suggestion to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and see if they will act on it.


      • List of X says:

        Putting cameras on school buses was your idea – my suggestion was only about where the fines would go, and I’m sure there’d be a lot of legitimate takers (police, city, schools, road fund, etc.) for it anyway 🙂


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