PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — First Student General Manager Mike Hamel says it’s important to prepare your child before riding the bus.

“Introduce them to the driver. The driver is the first person they’re gonna see in the morning and the last person they’re gonna see before they go home,” Hamel told KOIN 6 News.

He said to have your student stand 10 feet away from the bus stop so the driver can see them and safely approach. He said drivers know to give students a thumbs up when it’s safe to come on.

He said to make sure your student uses the handrail when boarding the bus and know how to sit in the seats properly, with both feet on the ground.

“Students, they want to be first at everything, so when the bus is coming to a stop they want to be the first ones off the bus. But wait for that bus to stop,” he said.

Safety resources for parents

He said parents of first-time riders should ask lots of questions and make sure their student knows to listen to the driver. They should also visit the bus stop before the first day of school to make sure they know where the stop is and what it looks like.

“If there is a case where the child does get on the wrong bus, the driver is going to notify the dispatcher. They’re gonna reach out to the school district and we will ensure that we get that child to the right place safely,” he said.

Safety around buses

When school starts up again, so does congestion on the roads. Hamel said drivers need to be alert during this time of year.

“They have to remember that they’ve experienced two months without the children running around at certain times of the day.”

Buses have a lot of safety features to make sure you see them.

“The first thing that sticks out is that iconic yellow paint, and that paints been around since 1939 and it’s there for a reason. It grabs our attention and it lets you know a school bus is coming,” he said.

He also urged drivers to know the rules of the road.

“Any time you see a school bus, just look for the lights. If the school bus has flashing yellow lights it’s about to come to a stop. As soon as those lights are flashing red and that stop arm comes out, students are either loading or unloading the bus,” he said.

Remember children can have unpredictable behavior. He urges drivers to be more patient and more cautious on the road.

Bus safety features

First Student buses are equipped with onboard technology to help keep students safe. All buses have GPS tracking, onboard cameras and a motion sensor that helps make sure no one is left behind.

The seats are extra high and padded on both sides to protect passengers if they’re in a crash.

Humel said the most important safety feature on your child’s bus is the driver.

“Our folks are passionate about what they do. Some of our drivers have been driving for over 50 years,” he said.

Drivers go through more than 50 hours of training and mentorship before they start their route. Before they leave the bus at the end of the route, there’s a list of procedures to ensure that every child is off the bus.