Kids Learn About School Bus Safety

A school bus   It was a regular morning on the school bus for students at Lookout Valley Elementary School in Chattanooga, Tennessee – until the bus driver said something unusual. “I smell smoke,” she told the kids.  “Do y’all see the red handles?  Those are your emergency exits.” With that, all the kids quickly got off the bus. There was no panicking, because everybody knew where to go and what to do. “These kids were great here,” said Ben Coulter, the transportation director for the Hamilton County, Tennessee, Department of Education, in an interview with Chattanooga TV station WRCB. Actually, it wasn’t a real emergency. It was only a drill – a drill designed to make sure kids do the right thing if there is ever a real emergency. “(Now) we know where the exits are,” a girl named Falyn told WRCB reporter Dan Kennedy. This week is National School Bus Safety Week. And across the country, school districts are doing a variety of things to make sure kids know how to ride to and from school safely – even if something unusual and unexpected happens, such an accident. Why? “If we (didn’t) have a drill, someone could get hurt,” a boy named Linus told WRCB. National School Bus Safety Week began in the early 1990s. It’s an organized effort that “encourages and promotes school bus safety,” according to Zane Cole, the chairman of the National School Bus Safety Week Committee. And it’s always the third full week in October. In Houston, Texas, Curtis Harris, a transportation field safety investigator with the Houston Independent School District, created a music video to get the safety message across. It’s called the “School Bus Talk.” “Now when the big yellow pulls up to your stop, that pushing and playing has got to stop,” the song goes.  “Stand real still in a real straight line, so when the bus stops, you’ll board it just fine.” Kids from Peck Elementary School, Yates High School and Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts helped make the video. It even includes an anti-bullying message. “Now nobody likes it when a bully starts trouble, so if he starts acting, then quickly on the double, tell that driver when something’s wrong,  ‘cause a bully on a bus just doesn’t belong,” the song says.  “Driver tell that bully, ‘Chill be cool.  The ride is much better when you play by the rule.’  Because riding is a privilege, you don’t want to walk, that’s the name of the game with the School Bus Talk.” The Pennsylvania State Police also have some safety tips:   * Never walk close to the front or the side of the bus.  The bus driver might not be able to see you. * Before you cross the street to get on the bus, always look both ways to make sure no cars are coming. * And if you drop something outside the bus, don’t bend down to pick it up without telling the bus driver first.  Otherwise, the driver might not see you.   Millions of kids ride school buses safely every day. But if there is an emergency, knowing the right things to do could make the difference between a safe outcome and a sad outcome. “We take pride in keeping our kids safe,” Harris said.