With the rumble of school buses serving as a reminder of back-to-school season in Pennsylvania, PennDOT is reminding parents to talk with students about staying safe - on and off the bus.

"Children can be distracted by the excitement of returning to school and reuniting with their classmates," said PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch, P.E. "Parents and students need to talk about being safe while traveling to and from school."

Schoch suggests that parents discuss the following safety tips with students:

* Get to the bus stop five minutes early to avoid having to run to catch the bus.* If crossing the street to board the school bus, be sure to look left-right-left to see that all cars have stopped.

Ÿ When waiting for the school bus, stay at least five wide steps away from the curb or roadway to avoid traffic.

Ÿ Avoid the "School Bus Danger Zone" by staying at least 10 wide steps away from the bus on all sides so the bus driver can see you. If you drop something near or under a bus, be sure to tell the driver before trying to retrieve it.

Ÿ NEVER walk behind the school bus.

Ÿ When getting on and off the bus, secure drawstrings on coats and other loose items so they cannot get caught in the handrail or door.

Ÿ Talk quietly while on the bus so the driver is not distracted.

Ÿ Remain seated at all times and wait for the bus to fully stop before standing up to exit.

Students who walk to school should avoid using cell phones or wearing headphones to prevent distractions while walking near traffic. If walking in low light or dark conditions, wear bright colored clothing or reflective tape strips to be seen.

For more tips, visit the School Bus Safety link under the Traffic Safety Information Center onPennDOT's highway safety website at www.DriveSafePA.org.