School Bus Safety Tips

Back-to-school season is upon us! Whether you have a child in school or not, you have an obligation as a motorist to abide by rules that ensure the safety of children as they’re loading and unloading at their bus stop.

Driving? Be Mindful and Patient

Maybe you’re running late for work or just in a rush to get home. Either way, when you see a school bus, slow your roll. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 20% of school bus-related fatalities are non-occupants, such as pedestrians. Another 10% of fatalities are school vehicle occupants. Of those fatalities, most occurred between 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Here are some best practices when approaching a bus stop:

  • Be alert while driving through neighborhoods with school bus routes, especially in the morning and mid-afternoon.
  • Watch for children assembling at bus stops. Kids may be running late and cross the street without looking for oncoming traffic.
  • Pay attention to school bus lights and signage. Red flashing lights and stop sign arms are clear indicators that a bus is unloading students. Some buses also use flashing yellow lights to indicate the vehicle is preparing to stop.
  • Stay at least 20 feet away from a stopped school bus.
  • Follow the speed limit, especially in areas with school bus routes.
  • Research your state’s laws on school bus regulations. Most drivers on either side of a two-lane residential or non-highway road are required to stop when a school bus is loading or unloading students. Drivers on the opposite side of a school bus on a four-lane road are subject to state-specific restrictions.

Students: Double-Check Your Surroundings

Parents and students should be especially wary of oncoming traffic around bus stops. Whether you accompany your children to their bus stop or they go alone, there are things they should remember to do when boarding and disembarking from the bus.

  • Arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes early to avoid missing or rushing to the bus.
  • Never run after a bus in motion or across a street without looking left and right for oncoming traffic.
  • Stay at least six feet back from the bus stop.
  • Don’t approach the bus until it’s come to a complete stop and the driver has opened the door.
  • If you must cross the street after you leave the bus, do so in front of the vehicle and make eye contact with the driver before you go.
  • Look both ways before you cross the street in front of a school bus to ensure all traffic has stopped.

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