Clogged roads, stopped buses, lower speed limits—when school starts back, traffic patterns change. This impacts everyone: drivers, parents and students.

While riding a school bus is safer than riding to school in the family vehicle, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses still offer unique challenges to motorists. Keep these tips in mind for sharing the road with school buses—and driving near schools and bus stops:

When you’re driving near buses and schools

Slow down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. In fact, a pedestrian struck by a car traveling at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 10 mph faster.

Eliminate distractions. Taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your risk of crashing. And since children can cross the road unexpectedly and emerge suddenly between two vehicles, avoiding distractions like using your phone or eating is key to sharing the road with school buses.

Come to a complete stop. More than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. Always come to a complete stop and check carefully for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.

Observe the school bus laws in your state. Know the laws in your state for safely sharing the road with school buses, and remember the meaning of flashing signal lights that school bus drivers use:

  • Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop for students to get on or off. You should slow down and prepare to stop, too.
  • Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off. Stop your vehicle and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, the bus begins moving, and no children are in the street before you start driving again.

When you’re driving near bus stops

Reverse carefully. Every vehicle has blind spots, and backup cameras don’t show your entire surroundings. Check for children on sidewalks, in driveways and around your vehicle before slowly backing up.

Be alert. Students who are late for the bus may run into the street without looking for traffic, so always slow down and watch for children near bus stops.

For students and parents

Beware of blind spots. A bus has several spots where students can’t see approaching vehicles, and vice versa.

Arrive early. Get your children to the bus stop five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive, stand at least three giant steps (6 feet) from the curb and remember that the bus stop isn’t a place to run or play.

Take these steps as a pedestrian to stay safe on the road.

Get the Tips

Wait for the bus to fully stop. When it arrives, make sure the bus comes to a complete stop and the door opens before your kids approach it.

Don’t walk behind a school bus. When crossing in front of or beside the bus, ensure you and your children:

  • Walk on a sidewalk or along the street at least three giant steps from the side of the bus.
  • Make sure there are at least five giant steps (10 feet) between you and the front of the bus.
  • Look at the driver for a signal to cross.
  • Look to the left, right and left again.
  • Keep watching the traffic as you walk in front of the bus.
  • If you drop something under the school bus, get the bus driver’s attention and ask them for help.

Students Reporting for Duty

You’ve learned what to teach your kids about bus safety—now find opportunities where they can take the lead through the AAA School Safety Patrol program.

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