In most areas, kids are now back in school and you are seeing more school-related traffic on the roadways. This includes those dreaded school buses, which always seem to magically appear in front of you when you are running late. While sharing the road with school buses can be somewhat of a pain, try to keep in mind that buses play an essential role in the safe transportation of children. It is important to support them by knowing and obeying school bus traffic laws.
According to the National Safety Council, school buses are one of the safest forms of transportation for students. They warn, however, that more children are hurt or killed outside of the bus when they fail to watch where they are going, or when a motorist does not pay attention and illegally passes a stopped school bus.
The council offers the following points to remind drivers of school traffic safety laws and procedures:
- In all 50 states it is illegal to pass a school bus that has stopped to pick up or drop off children.
- In all 50 states traffic in both directions is required to stop on undivided roadways when students are being picked up and dropped off.
- State laws vary on divided roadway requirements, however in all cases, vehicles driving behind the bus, and moving in the same direction must stop when the bus does.
- Flashing yellow lights on a school bus indicate the bus driver is preparing to stop to load or unload passengers. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm signals that the bus has stopped and children are exiting or entering the bus.
- A required distance of 10 feet around a school bus must be observed to allow sufficient space for children getting on or off the bus.
- Be on the lookout for children who may run or fail to observe safety rules when moving to and from the bus stop.
- Drivers should never block crosswalks when waiting to turn or stopped for a red light.
- In school zones be alert for warning flashers, and while you are in an active zone, be sure to yield the right-of-way to students crossing in the marked crosswalk.
To learn more about the laws in your area, see AAA’s summary of school bus traffic laws state by state.
If your morning commute takes you through an area with school bus stops, just leave a little early so you won’t have to stress about delays. Remember, we are all sharing the same roadways, and it is up to each of us to keep the drive safe!