Today marks the third day of National School Bus Safety Week, October 20–24, 2014, an annual public education event designed to promote school bus safety. This week, school districts across the country will hold events and share important information to educate the public about student safety on and around the school bus.
School Bus Safety Tips for Drivers
Most children who are involved in fatal school bus accidents are aged four to seven years and are hit by the bus or by motorists illegally passing a stopped school bus. It is imperative that drivers take responsibility for knowing how to properly and safely share the road with school buses.
Tip 1: Know the law
In all 50 states, it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus loading or unloading children.
In the District of Columbia, drivers must stop their vehicle at least 15 feet from a school bus when its warning light is flashing, unless the vehicle is on the other side of a divided median.
Tip 2: Slow down
- Lower your driving speed to 15 mph in school zones when school is in session.
- Slow down when passing schools, playgrounds or anywhere children are walking, boarding or exiting a vehicle.
- Keep a reasonable distance from a school bus and be prepared to stop.
Tip 3: Make every child’s school bus safety your responsibility
Use extra precaution when driving near a school bus or in a school zone. Since walking to and from the school bus is part of their daily routine, children may get comfortable and make mistakes, like failing to look both ways before crossing the street. It is every adult’s responsibility, including motorists’, to ensure a child’s safety on and around the school bus.
Tip 4: Know when it’s Safe to Pass
- Drivers must come to a complete stop when the bus’ warning lights are flashing and the stop sign is extended.
- Watch for pedestrians all around your stopped vehicle. Leave crosswalks clear for pedestrians.
- Drivers may proceed or pass the bus after the stop sign is lowered and the lights stop flashing.
- Never pass a school bus on the right, as that is the side of the bus where passengers board and exit the bus. Always pass on the left.
More resources on school bus safety:
Safety Tips for Motorists – National Safety Council
Driving Laws by State – AAA Digest of Motor Laws
“School Bus Safety: Be Prepared, Not Scared” – US Department of Transportation
School Bus Safety Tips – Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia
Traffic Safety Toolkit – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration