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School Bus Safety is a Two-Way Street

It’s that time of year again. Students will be heading back to school, so extra caution is required when traveling our neighborhood roadways. It’s an exciting time of year; however, it will probably take a little while before drivers’ and students’ familiar bus safety habits are back in focus. We thought a brief safety refresher was in order for both students and drivers.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), students are 70 times more likely to arrive at school safely when taking the school bus rather than traveling by car. That’s because school buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road. They are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries.

Here is a list of important safety precautions to decrease the likelihood of a school bus-related incident:

Reminders for Students

  • Wait for the bus at a safe distance from traffic and the street.
  • Stay away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop and the driver opens the door.
  • Never run into the street in front of or behind the bus.

Reminders for Drivers

  • Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is preparing to stop, telling other drivers should do the same.
  • Red flashing lights and a stop-arm out mean that the bus has completely stopped, and children may be getting on or off the bus.
  • Drivers of cars on either side of the road must stop their vehicles entirely and wait for the bus to stop displaying the stop arm and flashing lights. Only when an unpaved median or barrier separates lanes of traffic may cars traveling in the opposite direction proceed with caution.
  • Each state has its own set of laws dictating specific aspects of stopping for a school bus. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the laws of your state—remember that it is always better to err on the side of caution.

Passing a bus with its stop-arm out is illegal in every one of the 50 U.S. states. Yet, many drivers are unaware of this, or they feel their situation is an exception—such as when a driver doesn’t see students crossing the road and assumes it is safe to go. Unfortunately, no such leeway exists as drivers have a legal and ethical obligation to always abide by the laws to keep children safe.

Remember, these laws/rules exist for a reason and are designed to protect the youngest members of our communities. When you share the road with a school bus, its small passengers’ safety is in your hands.

Finally, kids are kids, and they tend to do impulsive things, so be vigilant and always exercise great care. Children of all ages can benefit from parental guidance regarding getting to and from school as safely as possible. Take some time as the new school year begins to review safety precautions with your students that best suit your situation.

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