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Keeping kids safe on buses

3 March 2020

Buses are a useful way to transport children, but vigilance is needed to ensure a child is never left on a bus after the journey is over.

It is essential that children who travel on a school or service bus are safe. They should never be left alone or unsupervised. It’s also important to ensure children who should be on the bus are on-board.

A child being left unsupervised on a bus at any time is very serious. There can be significant physical and/or emotional consequences for the child. Vehicles parked in locations with or without shade can quickly reach dangerous temperatures.

It can also be very traumatising for a child’s parents/guardians and those responsible for caring for the child.

Practical ways to ensure children safely board and alight the bus

Be vigilant and ensure checking by all adults who have a duty of care responsibility to children. This includes the bus driver, educators/teachers and other service/school staff.

Have a clear and detailed policy and specific practical procedures. In particular, at the end of the bus journey, walk down the aisle of the bus. Look carefully to make sure no child is on, or under, any seat on the bus. Conduct head counts, sign children on and off the bus, record care bookings and absences for each day.

Double- and even triple-checking procedures need to be in place. These need to be implemented to ensure that all children are accounted for at the beginning and end of a bus journey.

If a child is identified as being absent, immediate action needs to be taken. This includes a physical check of the bus, contacting the parents and searching for the child.

Ensure all the children and adults, including the bus driver, who are involved in bus travel receive adequate induction. They need to know exactly what behaviour and practices are expected and be committed to implementing them.

There are also electronic devices/apps available on the market designed to support safer bus journeys.

Help make it a safe and smooth ride for children in your care.

Safety first: 10 tips for a smooth ride
  1. Have a clear and detailed policy and specific practical procedures.
  2. Ensure training for all adults involved in transporting children, including the bus driver (particularly if there is a relief driver).
  3. Have someone from the service/school deliver and receive children to and from the driver.
  4. Sign children on and off the bus as they actually get on or off.
  5. Conduct a physical inspection of the bus at the end of the journey. 
  6. Conduct head counts.
  7. Record care bookings and absences.
  8. Check, double-check and triple-check.
  9. Act immediately if a child is missing.
  10. Consider electronic devices/apps.