Backing School Buses

School buses are safe but backing can be dangerous.
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Backing School Buses

School buses are one of the safest ways for students to get to school. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, students are 70 times more likely to get to school safely when riding in a school bus instead of traveling by car.

With as safe as they are, crashes and injuries can result from school buses backing up. Many schools adopt policies prohibiting the backing of school buses except where absolutely necessary. In situations where backing maneuvers cannot be avoided drivers can employ several strategies.

Backing Strategies

  • Find Alternatives
    Make efforts to find an alternative to backing the bus. Periodically review each situation requiring a bus to back up and determine if there are any alternatives.
  • Minimize the Distance
    Backup for the shortest possible distance, just enough to enable the driver to proceed forward.
  • Use Technology
    Drivers should make use of any onboard technology (such as back-up cameras, proximity sensors, etc.) to supplement their mirrors and direct observations.
  • Employ a Spotter
    When backing is unavoidable, an adult outside observer is encouraged. Drivers should use extreme caution when relying on a spotter. An untrained or inexperienced spotter could put themselves in a dangerous position.
  • Use Sound and Light
    Back-up alarms, four-way hazard lights and horns are attention-getting devices to be used when the bus has to back up. Drivers should request silence inside the bus during the maneuver so they can more easily hear any warning from outside the bus, such as another vehicle’s horn.
  • Bus Routes
    Ideally bus routes should be designed to load children before turnarounds and unload them after turnarounds.
  • Alert Parents
    When route conditions necessitate daily backing in order to pick up a particular student, contact parents in the area to alert them that a bus will be backing up on their street.
  • Educate
    Make sure students know to never cross behind a school bus and that students should remain in their seats at all times while the bus is in motion.

School buses are the safest vehicles on the road.
By practicing safe backing techniques, drivers can ensure they’re safe even when in reverse.