School Bus Safety Refreshers as We Prepare for Another School Year
When the school bus picks up or drops off children, traffic congestion may lead to children being at increased risk of serious and even fatal injury in collisions with cars. The National Safety Council reports that reckless drivers who overtake stopped buses are a significant cause of death for children between 4 and 7 years old.
As the new school year approaches, drivers should review key rules to keep children as safe as possible on their way to and from school. Use these tips to share the road safely with school buses and children.
School bus drivers use signal lights and extendable stop signs (sometimes called “stop-arms”) when picking up or dropping off children. These signals are important to cue drivers to stop or slow down with children leaving or boarding the bus. Slow down and watch out for these lights when driving near a bus:
- Yellow flashing light: If you see this light, reduce your speed, as the bus is about to stop. The bus may have children waiting to board or disembark. Parents and guardians may also be nearby to pick up their children.
- Red flashing light: This indicates the school bus is stopping for children. Remain stopped until the bus driver turns off the red flashing light, withdraws the stop-arm, and begins driving the bus again. All 50 states make it illegal to pass a stopped school bus.
Young children may board and exit buses at any moment, and they are less noticeable than adults due to their smaller size. Children might also cross the street or play in or near the street while waiting for the bus.
Slow down when you see children near a school bus and be ready to hit the brakes. Watch your blind spots and adjust your mirrors to look out for children who may run to catch the bus without checking for traffic. You might want to adjust your mirrors downward to spot smaller children when driving through school zones or areas with school bus stops.
Children are most at risk for injuries and death from crashes within the first 10 feet of the school bus. If you’re driving behind a bus, create an larger distance between your car and the bus than you normally would for other vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends drivers stay at least 20 feet behind a stopped school bus to let children safely get on and off the bus. If you see children crossing near your vehicle, slow down and stop until they are clear of your car.
Parents must talk to their children about safety precautions before boarding or getting off the school bus. Children need to learn to pay attention to their surroundings and follow these important safety practices:
Children should arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus arrives. Parents should teach their children to wait for the bus a minimum of five steps back from the curb to stay out of the bus’s path. Ensure your child focuses on waiting for the bus rather than running or playing.
When the bus stops, teach your child to wait until the driver opens the door before getting on. Advise children to use the handrails to avoid slipping.
Children should make eye contact with bus drivers and other drivers before crossing the street as it helps them know the driver has seen them. Tell your children never to cross the street behind a bus.
You should also teach your children to alert the driver if they drop a ball or backpack near the bus. They should not attempt to pick it up, since other drivers may not see them.
Tell children never to cross the street without stopping and looking left and right for vehicles. Explain that not all drivers will be able to stop for them in time if they run out into the street. Encourage them to face oncoming traffic when walking so drivers can see them and they can remain aware of their surroundings.
Knowing how to walk and drive around school buses is vital to keep everyone safe during the school year. Although it is never your child’s fault if a reckless driver injures them, they can help keep themself safe by staying aware of their surroundings.
If you or your child is injured in a vehicle accident, talk to the St. Louis auto accident lawyers at Cofman Townsley immediately to understand your legal rights and options. We can help you pursue compensation and hold the negligent driver responsible for their actions.
Contact us to schedule a free case evaluation so you can get justice and compensation.