School Bus Safety

Every school day, Student Transportation Services of Waterloo Region is responsible for the safe transportation of approximately 21,000 Waterloo Region District School Board students to and from school on close to 820 school bus routes,  on municipal transit and taxis.

All parents/guardians share in this responsibility by:

  • assisting their child in organizing and securing belongings before leaving home;
  • removing all long drawstrings and toggles from outer clothing to prevent these from being caught in handrails and doors;
  • ensuring their child’s safety while getting to and from the school vehicle pick-up/drop-off points;
  • being at the pick-up/drop-off points each day or arranging for a responsible adult to be there
    please note: Kindergarten students will not be dropped off at the drop-off points at noon unless there is an adult present or other arrangements have been made.
  • supporting the enforcement of school vehicle safety rules and procedures;
  • arranging for emergency care should the school have to close early and making sure their child and the school know the details.

Vehicle safety is reviewed with students each term. Vehicle evaluation drills are conducted annually through our schools. Parents/guardians can help ensure safe student transportation by reviewing and discussing safety rules and procedures with their children on a regular basis.

At the Bus Stop:
Parents/guardians should instruct their children to:

  • organize and adequately secure belongings before leaving home;
  • arrive at the designated pick-up location 5 minutes ahead of the scheduled pick-up time;
  • wait in an orderly fashion well back from the side of the road;
  • respect the private property at the bus stop;
  • recognize that a danger zone exists in the immediate vicinity of the school buses;
  • wait until the school bus driver signals to them, if they need to cross the road to board the bus.

Riding School Vehicles
Students must:

  • board the vehicle in single file, with younger children first and use the handrail;
  • walk directly to their seat as specified by the driver and sit down;
  • remain seated until ready to leave the school vehicle;
  • never smoke, eat or drink on the school vehicle;
  • keep books and parcels on their lap and keep aisles clear at all times;
  • avoid distracting or disturbing the driver (students listening to portable radios must use headsets);
  • open windows only with driver’s permission and keep hands, feet, arms and head inside the school vehicle;
  • never throw objects inside the school vehicle or out the windows;
  • promptly obey the driver’s directions, (or the direction of the school safety patrol, if present);
  • use emergency equipment or exits only in the case of genuine emergency.

Getting Off School Vehicles
Students must:

  • have their belongings organized and adequately secured before arriving at their stop;
  • remain seated until the vehicle comes to a full stop;
  • walk to the front of the vehicle and use the handrail while exiting in single file;
  • get off the vehicle only at their designated stop unless permission is granted by the principal;
  • immediately move away from the vehicle, recognizing the danger zone close to the vehicle;
  • when required to cross the road establish full eye contact with the driver, wait for the driver to signal (or the direction of the safety patrol, if present), check traffic in both directions and then cross the road in front of the school vehicle.

When Safety Rules are Broken
It is essential parents/guardians support enforcement of school bus safety rules. When student behaviour is inappropriate:

  • the driver first talks with the student;
  • if the student does not co-operate, the driver reports the student to the principal, detailing the incident; the driver continues to seek student co-operation;
  • the principal records all such reports and takes whatever corrective action is warranted; this could include suspension of transportation privileges.

School Bus Drivers
School bus drivers are dedicated professionals who must meet Ministry of Transportation standards for a ‘B’ class driver’s license. In addition to student safety and behaviour, they must deal with all types of weather and traffic conditions, other motorists and the danger zone around their own vehicle.

First Rides Program
This program is specifically designed for kindergarten students and their families to become familiar with riding a school bus and school bus safety rules. The Board invites all interested families to participate August 22, 2010. For locations and registration information please visit

School Vehicles
School vehicles used to transport students must meet federal and provincial standards and all licensing requirements. They are subjected to mechanical safety inspections twice annually and drivers do a daily circle check before starting out. All vehicles have two-way radios and local bus companies maintain radio contact while vehicles are on the road.

School buses are large vehicles which require more space to maneuver. Large mirrors are required to assist drivers with blind spots. The Ontario Highway Traffic Act requires motorists to stop when the school bus flashing overhead lights and stop arm are activated.

Most students are transported on conventional school buses, but school purpose vehicles, taxis and para-transit services are also used. Where available and cost-effective, municipal transit service may be provided for eligible students in grades 7 to 12. Students receive information about passes/tickets at their individual schools.

Special needs units, school purpose vehicles, vans and taxis are equipped with seat belts although school and transit buses are not. Passenger loads are designed to provide a seat space for each student on a school bus. Public transit permits standing on buses.

Bus Patrols
Many elementary school bus routes have safety patrollers on board. These students assist other students when embarking/disembarking, and provide support to bus drivers in the event of an emergency situation. They receive training each fall in sessions conducted by the Waterloo Regional Police Service, Municipal Fire Departments and Regional Ambulance.

Further Information

  • call your school
  • call Student Transportation Services at 519 650 4934