It may still be hot and sunny outside, but the new school year has already begun in most parts of the country. As students go back to school, it’s a good time for a refresher course on school bus safety – not only for students, parents and teachers, but also for others on the road. It’s essential for drivers to slow down and be aware when they see those big yellow school buses. Read on for a few important reminders on sharing the road this school year.
When driving behind a school bus, slow down and keep your distance. School buses stop often and they may stop quickly, so leaving enough room will give you enough time to slow down when buses do. Never pass a school bus that is stopped to unload children – doing so is illegal in all 50 states. Watch for flashing red or yellow lights or the red stop arm, but err on the side of caution and simply stop when the bus does.
Stop at least 10 feet from the bus in all directions – those 10 feet are the most dangerous for kids. Keep in mind that children are unpredictable and may run in a different direction or linger in the road after getting off the bus.
When driving in a school zone or crosswalk, be extra cautious. Always yield to pedestrians (even if they don’t have the right of way), and follow the direction of traffic signals and crossing guards. Never pass a vehicle that is stopped for a bus or pedestrians. Don’t block crosswalks – doing so could force pedestrians to cross the road in an unsafe area.
When dropping kids off at school, be extra cautious – according to the Safe Routes for Schools program, more children are hit by cars near school than in any other location. To protect your children and their classmates, don’t load or unload across the street, don’t double park (it reduces visibility), and carpool with other families to reduce the number of cars at school.
School bus safety is the responsibility of everyone sharing the road. Above all, slow down and be aware of what’s going on around you, and take extra care around schools and buses.