Over 25 million students across the nation begin and end their days by riding a school bus, according to the National Safety Council. Whether you are a driver or the parent of a child who takes the bus to school, you play an important role in ensuring the safety of kids and others who share our public roadways. By obeying the rules of the road, understanding the unique laws regarding school buses, and practicing safe habits, you can significantly reduce risks of preventable accidents and injuries.
At Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLP, our personal injury attorneys fight for victims injured in all types of auto wrecks, including school bus accidents. To help local residents protect themselves and students while on the road, our legal team has put together a list of helpful safety tips.
Drivers: Know the Law
All motorists have a legal obligation to obey traffic laws and drive responsibly so as to limit the chances of causing preventable harm. Avoiding acts of negligence behind the wheel – whether it be distraction, impairment, or aggressive driving – is critical to ensuring the safety of others around you, especially when in school zones or near school buses.
It is also important to know and obey Pennsylvania’s school bus traffic law:
- When a school bus has its stop sign extended and red lights flashing, you must stop at least 10 feet away from the bus.
- You are required by law tostop when you approach an intersection where a school bus is stopped with its stop sign extended and red lights flashing.
- You must remain at a stop until a school bus no longer has its stop sign extended and red lights flashing.
- Motorists can continue traveling without stopping for a school bus only if they are in the opposing lane of traffic and oncoming traffic is separated by some type of physical barrier, such as a median or guard rail.
- You should not proceed after stopping for a school bus until all students have reached a place of safety. This includes waiting for any children who may exit the bus and cross the street. If in doubt about whether you are able to proceed with driving, remain at a stop.
- Failure to abide by Pennsylvania’s school bus stopping law can result in serous penalties, including a $250 citation, five points on your driver’s license, and a 60-day driver’s license suspension.
Parents & Students: Put Safety First
If your child rides the bus to school, speak with them about the importance of making safety a priority. Focus on the following tips and things you can do to keep your kids safe:
- Students should never run after a school bus or cross the street outside of a walkway in order to catch the bus. You can avoid these dangers by making sure your child arrives to a bus stop early or escorting them to the bus stop.
- Make sure children wait for the bus in a safe place at least several feet away from the roadway.
- Make sure children cross the street safely at intersections and walk at least 10 feet in front of school buses to ensure drivers can see them. Children should never cross the street behind a school bus.
- Children should remain in their seats and avoid behaviors that can distract bus drivers, including horseplay, loud voices, playing with backpacks or instruments, playing with emergency exits, putting their arms or head outside of the windows, and walking in or blocking aisles.
- If a school bus has seat belts, make sure your child always buckles up.
Even when children take all the proper precautions, accidents can still happen when motorists and school bus drivers are negligent. At Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLP, our legal team is readily available to help victims and families hurt in wrecks involving school buses pursue the compensation they deserve. To learn more about your rights, contact us today for a free consultation.