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 Stop your vehicle and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, the bus begins moving, and no children are in the street before you start driving again.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.