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What Should Motorists Do When Around School Buses?

Published: Aug 9, 2021 in Auto Accident, Pedestrian Accidents, Personal Injury
School Zone

As students return to school, buses will be out every morning and afternoon. Due to the size of the school bus, children are the most vulnerable when they board the vehicle in the morning or disembark to head home. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that school-age pedestrian fatalities are most likely to happen between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. and from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Drivers need to review the laws regarding school bus safety so they can confidently navigate any situation.

Share the Road

It is important to remember that school buses are the safest way to transport students. According to the NHTSA, students are roughly 70 times more likely to arrive at school safely in a bus compared to a car. School buses are highly regulated and safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries.

No one wants to get stuck behind a school bus because they are slow and make frequent stops, but this is exactly what drivers need to keep in mind when they encounter a school bus. A school bus needs a lot of distance to operate. The most dangerous area for schoolchildren is the 10-foot radius around the school bus, so drivers should give them plenty of room to get on and off the bus.

Be Aware of Stopped Buses With Flashing Lights

If the flashing lights are yellow, be aware that the bus is preparing to stop. If the lights are red and the stop sign is extended, children will be getting on or off the bus, and drivers must stop and wait. Never pass a school bus that has stopped because there could be pedestrians that are not yet visible. Drivers on the opposite side of the road may also be required to stop, depending on state law.

School buses are required to stop at railroad crossings as well. Motorists should be prepared to stop when following a bus that comes to a railroad crossing.

It is also important that motorists obey crossing guards and school patrol guards. Motorists should also yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and intersections.

Stay Alert

In order to prevent a car accident or another type of collision, motorists should avoid distracted driving, especially in a school zone. The time it takes to check a cellphone is enough to cause an accident that could be fatal. Eating, drinking, and personal grooming are distractions that divert a driver’s attention away from watching out for school-age children. Children are unpredictable and act without thinking, so it is important to always be alert.

How can I Drive Safely When School is in Session?

Even when drivers are not in the presence of a school bus, they need to be aware that when school starts, children will be out on the streets more often. Some of them will be walking or biking to school. When backing out of a driveway or garage, it is wise to walk around the car first and check the driveway and sidewalks for any children. When getting out of the car, check side mirrors before opening the door.

Once on the street, look out for pedestrians, bicyclists, and children waiting or playing at bus stops and playgrounds. Be particularly careful in school zones, residential neighborhoods, and while approaching intersections and crosswalks. Never stop in a crosswalk when trying to make a right hand turn as this could force pedestrians into a lane of moving traffic. Do not honk at pedestrians to indicate the right-of-way.

Always drive the speed limit, especially in school zones. Slowing down gives drivers more time to scan the street and check their mirrors for children and avoid potential accidents. Be aware that children on bikes often do not signal their intentions.

What can Parents Do to Keep Students Safe?

Parents can play a big role in keeping children safe. Some tips for parents include:

  • Know the school’s specific procedures for drop-off and pick-up.
  • Do not double park when dropping off children at school as it blocks visibility.
  • Try carpooling. Carpooling can reduce the number of vehicles at the school during busy times.
  • Respect the area reserved for school buses, and do not encroach on their space.
  • Obey crossing guards, and wait until they give the signal that it is safe to resume driving
  • Teach children to wait for the school bus, and only cross in front of the bus after looking both ways and the driver indicates it is safe. Always remain visible to the driver, and never cross the road behind the bus.
  • Children should always walk to the school bus. It is safe to get on the bus when it has stopped, the door has opened, and the driver says it is okay to enter. Enter and exit the bus in single file without pushing and shoving.

Drivers, parents, and students should review safety tips to prepare for the school session.

East St. Louis Car Accident Lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC Help Drivers Injured in School Zone Collisions

School bus safety is a serious matter. If you or your child becomes injured in an accident during the school session, contact the experienced East St. Louis car accident lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC. Call 618-277-3644 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation about your case. Located in Swansea, Illinois, we serve clients throughout St. Louis, Belleville, East St. Louis, Edwardsville, Granite City, Waterloo, Chester, Carbondale, St. Clair County, Madison County, Monroe County, Randolph County, and other regions throughout Southern Illinois.