The week following Labor Day weekend is traditionally recognized as back to school time. Even if you do not have kids in school, you can’t miss the myriad of school supply promotions, sales, and advertising. Another unmistakable indicator is the increased presence of those big yellow monsters on the road. Though sharing the road with school buses can be somewhat of a nuisance, they do play an essential role in the safe transportation of children, so 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.
If you know your morning route includes an area with school bus stops, be sure to leave a little early so you won’t have to stress about delays. Take a few extra sips of coffee, and listen to another song or two. The most important thing is to make sure EVERYONE gets to their destination safely!