School Bus Safety
August 2nd, 2016 by Attorney John Colvin
According to the American School Bus Council, the yellow buses that ferry millions of children to and from school compose the largest and safest transportation system in the United States. Buses are designed to be highly visible, and their reinforced shells offer superior crush resistance, making buses safer than the average passenger car. The primary safety concern associated with school bus transportation is other drivers on the road who endanger child pedestrians.
With most Tennessee students heading back to school in August, now’s a good time to review ways to reduce risks for school bus passengers.
Stopping for Buses
When a school bus stop arm is extended and the bus’s flashing red lights are on, drivers traveling in the same or opposite direction are required to stop, unless the bus is traveling in the opposite direction on a divided highway or on a multi-lane road separated by a median. However, many drivers will pretend to not see that a bus is stopped – one school bus driver in Chattanooga told the Times Free Press that drivers will actually turn their heads away from the stopped bus when passing.
The law that requires motorists to stop for school buses is intended to protect children who may be crossing the road in front of the bus. Drivers who ignore this law and deliberately look away put children at risk of serious injury.
When the stop arm is extended, motorists may not proceed until the stop arm is disengaged, the bus’s red flashing lights are off, and the bus has begun to move.
Many school bus stops aren’t clearly marked. They could be at the end of a driveway, at an intersection, or alongside a street. Paying attention to where these are, and slowing down when in the vicinity, is an easy way to keep kids safe. Sometimes, children engage in horseplay while waiting for the bus, so drivers should be prepared to stop if a child darts into the street.
When rain, fog, and low-light conditions could interfere with the ability to see children at or near bus stops, drivers may wish to exercise a greater degree of caution. And of course, avoiding all distractions while driving is in everyone’s best interests.
Teaching Children about Safety
Young children may not understand the risks associated with getting on or off the bus, so parents may want to review some basic safety tips with their children, such as:
- Avoid horseplay at bus stops.
- Pay attention to traffic near the bus stop.
- Board the bus only after the driver signals it’s safe to do so.
- Never run to catch a moving bus.
- When exiting the bus, if you have to cross in front of the bus, walk at least 10 feet forward and wait for the bus driver to signal it’s OK to cross.
- Always look left, right, then left again before crossing the street.
- Stay away from the bus’s rear wheels.
Using Good Judgment
Creating a safer environment for school bus passengers requires very little effort. When drivers obey traffic laws, avoid distractions, and avoid speeding or aggressive driving near buses, they reduce risk for child pedestrians. And kids who observe basic safety tips can also minimize the risk of injury for themselves.
John R. Colvin, Attorney at Law, has successfully represented injured clients throughout Tennessee and Alabama who have been seriously hurt by negligent drivers. He has also assisted families who have lost loved ones because of driver inattention. For 20 years, he has been helping victims put their lives back on track, and he is ready to help you. For advice on how to proceed next or if you have any questions about this topic, call (931) 962-1044 or submit this online form. Put his bold approach and client focus to work for you.