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Tips for Driving Safely Around School Buses

Every day, parents use school buses as a way to shuttle their children to school. Although this is a relatively safe way to ensure that kids reach their destination, it also has its share of safety hazards. Many of the dangers associated with riding the bus are caused by other drivers on the road and occur when children are outside of the bus or are in the process of entering or exiting it. Fortunately, the dangers that other vehicles pose to school buses and children are easily avoidable. Patience plays a significant role in school bus safety, as does recognizing what to look out for when in the vicinity of one.

While it is important that people drive safely around school buses, it is just as important that parents teach school bus safety to their children. Kids can play a role in their own safety when they are made aware of the dangers associated with riding the bus and what precautions they can take to safely avoid reckless or inattentive drivers on the road. Just as basic facts and tips can help people to become more cautious, safe, and aware around buses, they can also help children and even bus drivers to do the same.

Safety When Driving Around Buses

  • Certain aspects of bus safety laws may vary according to the specific state.
  • Buses generally use flashing lights to communicate with other drivers on the road. The lights communicate the intentions of the bus driver and should be heeded by other drivers.
  • Flashing yellow lights on a school bus typically indicate that it is slowing down and preparing to come to a stop. Drivers behind the bus must be ready to stop as well.
  • Red flashing lights are a sign that the bus has stopped and that children are exiting or getting on the bus. Often, the red flashing lights are accompanied by an extended sign that reads "Stop." In both instances, drivers must come to a stop at a safe distance as dictated by state laws.
  • Drivers cannot pass or move forward until the stopped school bus has turned off its red lights, the stop arm is no longer extended, and the bus has begun to move forward.
  • Bus stops, even those without buses currently present, can prove dangerous on school days, as kids often tend to run to the bus stop, gather around it, and may play without considering the danger of passing cars.

Children and School Bus Safety

  • When it comes to driving, school buses are the safest way to transport children to school and home again.
  • When waiting at bus stops, children should take three large steps back from the curb to maintain a safe distance between themselves and any approaching or passing vehicles. Three large steps from the curb is roughly the equivalent of six feet.
  • For their safety, children on the school bus must remain seated until it has come to a full stop.
  • At the sides, front, and back of the school bus, there is a 10 foot area that is widely considered to be a danger zone where accidents frequently occur.
  • After getting off the bus, children should take five very large steps away from it. These five large steps will take them out of the danger zone.
  • Making eye contact with the driver before crossing in front of the school bus is important to ensure that the driver actually sees the child and will not move forward. Children should wait until the driver motions that it is safe to cross in front of the bus.
  • Kneeling near the bus or attempting to retrieve items that have fallen under it can result in injury or death. Children should alert the driver if items fall beneath or near the bus.

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