Back to School Safety

Author: Dabney Weems

Many North Carolina students are back in the classrooms, which means more school buses on the roads and commuters in school zones. Do your part to keep children safe on their way to and from school by knowing school bus traffic laws.

When to stop

  • Two-lane roadway – All traffic from both directions must stop
  • Two-lane with a center turning lane – All traffic from both directions must stop
  • Four-lane roadway – All traffic from both directions must stop
  • Four-lane roadway with a median – Only traffic following the bus must stop
  • Four or more lanes with a center turning lane – Only traffic following the bus must stop

Other tips for school bus riders

  • Follow the bus driver’s signals – The school bus driver will signal with their hands when it is safe for the rider to cross the street when boarding and exiting the bus. Buses do have blind spots, so children should watch and wait for the all-clear signal from their driver. Riders should never walk behind a school bus.
  • Stand off the road – Children should stand at least 10 feet from the road when waiting for the bus. This keeps children off the road and out of traffic.
  • Something is dropped – If a child drops something while walking to the bus, they should not pick it up. They should notify the bus driver and follow the driver’s instructions. The child may not be seen by the driver if they bend down and pick up the object.
  • Look before getting on or off the bus – Bus riders should always check that traffic has stopped and their route is clear before crossing the street to board or before getting off the bus. Drivers sometimes try to pass buses, illegally.

Children home alone

Some children may spend their after-school hours at home without adult supervision. If your child must be home alone, be sure they are prepared for emergencies and household rules are clear. Parents and guardians can take the following steps to protect children who are home alone.

  • Safeguard the home by securing poisons, alcohol, firearms or any other items that could pose a threat to the child.
  • Go over fire escape plans and other procedures for emergencies.
  • Make sure children know how and when to call 9-1-1.
  • Have a list of phone numbers including how to contact the parent/guardian, doctor, other relatives and trusted individuals in a common area.
  • Teach children staying alone to never to open the door to a stranger or let anyone unfamiliar to them know (either on the phone or at the door) that they are without adult supervision.


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