School Bus Loading
and Unloading

The most dangerous part of the school bus ride is getting on and off the school bus.
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School Bus Loading And Unloading

Everyone on the road can do their part by making sure they stop for school bus loading and unloading. Both school bus drivers and parents play a role in making sure that a student gets safely to and from school. Learn about the “Danger Zone” and what to teach students to watch out for at school bus stops.

The “Danger Zone”

The loading and unloading area is called the “Danger Zone”. The “Danger Zone” is the area on all sides of the bus where children are in the most danger of not being seen by the driver:

  • 10 feet behind the bus
  • 10 feet in front of the bus
  • 10 feet on either side of the bus

Suggestions for School Bus Drivers:

  • Activate warning flasher system at least 100 feet prior to making a stop
  • Approach the loading zone slowly and carefully. Direct students to wait in an orderly fashion safely back from the roadway
  • Stop the vehicle 10 feet, or 15 feet if space is available, from students before loading
  • Place the vehicle’s transmission in neutral and set the parking brake before opening the door to load or unload
  • Ensure that traffic is stopped in both directions before allowing the pupils to approach or exit the bus
  • Count students to know how many are loading on or unloading from the bus, where they are, and where they are going. If count is lost, do not move the bus. If necessary, shut off the bus, secure it, and check underneath before moving the bus
  • Establish a pre-arranged danger signal, such as the horn, in case a vehicle does not stop for the bus while children are loading or unloading. Make sure students know exactly what to do if they hear the danger signal
  • Load and unload at designated pick-up and drop-off points
  • Back only at approved turn-around if backing is necessary near a bus stop. Prior to backing, ensure students are inside the bus
  • Do not unload children at corners immediately before making a right turn. Discharge children after making the turn
  • Double-check all crossover and side mirrors for students and traffic before leaving the bus stop
  • Do not put the bus in motion until all students outside are at a safe distance from the bus and all students inside are properly seated
  • Instruct students in the proper procedure for loading and unloading
  • Upon completion of the route, walk through the bus to check for sleeping students, vandalism, and forgotten articles

Parents, Educate Your Children In School Bus Safety:

  • Encourage your child to use a backpack to avoid dropping loose papers or books near or under the bus
  • Be aware of the dangers associated with your child’s clothing, backpack, and jacket strings/straps becoming entangled in the doorway of the school bus
  • Ensure that your child crosses far enough in front of the bus so that the driver can see them even if they drop something. Require your child to maintain eye contact with the driver
  • Instruct your child never to cross behind the school bus