Safe Travel Tips

You should discuss transportation conduct and safety rules with your children and share the safety tips below. Make the trip to and from school both safe and enjoyable—think safety at all times.

Riding a Bus

  • Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
  • When the bus approaches, stand at least three giant steps (6 feet) away from the curb, and line up away from the street.
  • Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it's okay, before stepping onto the bus.
  • If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you, and you can see the bus driver.
  • Use the handrails to avoid falling. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps don't get caught in the handrails or doors.
  • Never walk behind the bus.
  • After you get off the bus, walk at least three giant steps away from the side of the bus.
  • If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.
  • Students can only board/disembark the bus at their designated stop.
  • On the bus, students should talk quietly, be courteous to the driver, and follow the driver's instructions. They should stay seated during the entire bus ride and keep the aisles clear. 
  • Students should not eat or drink on the bus.

Taking the Train

  • Be careful when going up or down stairs.
  • Stand back from the edge of the platform.
  • Never jump onto the tracks for any reason.
  • If the train is stuck between stations, stay in the train and follow instructions.
  • Do not ride between cars.
  • Do not attempt to get on the train after it has started moving.
  • If there are no seats, find a pole to hold.
  • Do not eat or drink on the train.
  • Don't write on the seats or walls of a train.

Walking to School or a Bus Stop

We encourage as many students as possible to add healthy exercise to their daily routine by walking to school. In addition to the safety tips listed below, you can get maps of safe routes to each school and other resources.

  • Always learn the safest route and walk in groups. Never take shortcuts.
  • Plan a walking route to school or the bus stop. Choose the most direct way with the fewest street crossings and use intersections with crossing guards. Test the route. Stay away from parks, vacant lots, fields, and other places where there aren't many people around.
  • Cross the street in a designated crosswalk. Be extra careful in rainy, foggy, or snowy weather.
  • Always look left, then right, then left again before crossing a street and allow enough time to cross the street safely.
  • Know their home phone number and address, their parent/guardians’ work numbers, the number of another trusted adult, and how to use 911 for emergencies. Make sure they never talk to strangers or accept rides or gifts from strangers.

Guidance on Seat Belts, Wheelchairs, and Car Seats

Seat Belts on Yellow School Buses

Section 383 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law requires seat belts for school buses made after July 1, 1987, which carry general education students. A contract agreement requires the DOE to use buses with seat belts made after 1988.

The only students who must wear seat belts are those in special education, according to NYC Administrative Codes Sections 19-601, 19-602 and 19-603. No law requires any other student to wear one.


Bus drivers and attendants receive training and instruction on how to safely transport students with wheelchairs. This guidance covers four areas: Having the correct equipment on board; using the hydraulic lift safely; securing the chair properly; and protecting the rider.

Lap Trays

Federal guidelines do not allow any adaptive equipment or accessories on wheelchairs during transit: Students must remove lap trays from their wheelchairs while on a bus.

When left attached, a hard plastic tray can cause internal injury in the event of a crash or sudden stop. Students may not use their lap trays to help them sit upright; instead, they may use a postural support or vest. Once removed, the tray must be to 5-Gs (or 5 times) its weight, according to federal guidelines. We provide lap tray pouches for safely storing trays during transport; the pouch goes over a seat and features a pocket for the tray.

Car Seats

New York State Law has specific requirements for the use of car seats, or Child Safety Restraint Systems, by students using school buses, which may be different from DMV policy regarding their use in private vehicles. In short, all students under the age of four must travel using a car seat on a bus. Over four-years-old, the state recommends car seats for children weighing less than 50 pounds. Students age four and older, over 50 pounds, may travel without a car seat, using the seat belts present on the vehicle.

Safety Drills

All schools, including Pre-K and Early Intervention sites, must conduct at least three school bus safety drills per school year. The first must be during the first week of the fall term (the first five days), the second between November 1 and December 31, and the third between March 1 and April 30. The bus safety drills include practice and instruction in the location, use and operation of the emergency door, fire extinguishers, first-aid equipment and windows as a means of escape in case of fire or accident.

Head Lice on School Bus

New York City Public Schools follow a “no head lice” policy. Employees will exclude students with head lice from the bus, school, and all other activities. They should notify parents, instruct them on treatments and ask them to pick up the students as soon as possible.

All schools or facilities with affected routes must be contacted, along with the parents of other students, and any school personal (such as an assigned Para Professional) who have come in contact with the student. Drivers will not allow students on the school bus until notified by the principal or principal’s designee, that the student is lice free.

Immediately following notification of infestation, the school bus driver should thoroughly clean the bus by:

  • Removing all items from the school bus that are cloth or cloth-like. These include discarded clothing, gloves or boots, and any removable cloth seat backs. Wash everything in hot water to make sure the lice die.
  • Sweeping out the school bus completely to remove all dust and dirt from the floors and seats.
  • Spraying down the floors, seats, walls, and windows with a strong disinfectant that kills bugs and germs. Washing the interior of the bus with soap and water, rinsing, and letting it air dry.

You can also find additional information by visiting our head lice page: