The bell has rung, the yellow bus is on the road, and school is back in session! As the school year commences, more traffic will be on the roads in both the morning and afternoon in order to transport children safely to and from school. At least 50 percent of children rely on school bus transportation nationwide. In New York State, over 2.3 million children ride the school bus each day. School buses have proven to be the safest method of transportation for young students, as a fatal school bus crash is rare, representing only .4% of 340,039 fatal accidents in the United States from 2004 to 2013. However, accidents involving school buses are almost three times as deadly for occupants of other vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found. On average, the NHTSA reported approximately 134 people die in a school bus accident, of which 8 percent are riding buses and pedestrians, bicyclists, and others outside of the school bus account for 21% of those fatalities.
Sharing the Road With School Buses
In order to prevent a school bus accident, the community must learn how to share the road. We must drive like we own the vehicle, not as if we own the road itself. Take a look at these school bus safety tips for motorists to prevent pedestrian accidents involving a school bus and help children get to school safely.
1. Always Stay Alert
You are on your way to work on a Monday and you take your eyes off of the road for just a moment to have a sip of your much needed coffee. Little did you know, there was a child waiting for his ride to school just at the edge of the curb. Or maybe the school bus you follow everyday on your way to work suddenly has another stop you did not know about. It is easy to zone out while driving during your daily routine. You must always observe your surroundings.
2. Always Slow Down at Crosswalks
Crosswalks are not just for the pedestrian, they also prevent jaywalking, making it safer for you to drive down the street. When approaching a crosswalk, always yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.
3. Never Block Crosswalks
Make sure when you stop at a crosswalk that a portion of your vehicle is not blocking any portion of it. Blocking a crosswalk puts pedestrians in a dangerous situation as they have to walk around your vehicle.
4. Always be Aware of School Zones
When traveling near a school pay attention to the reduced speed limit and also for signs with warning flashers that are blinking. When you see them, you must stop and yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian that is attempting to cross the street. Also keep focused on the road and always off your cell phone. Remember, distracted driving can be fatal.
5. Never Forget about Driving Conditions
On a foggy morning or a rainy day, it may be more difficult to see a child crossing a street, plus the road may also be slippery when braking so give yourself plenty of time to stop. And now with fall arriving, leaves will start falling soon contributing to slick driving conditions. Remember to adjust your speed according to the weather and road conditions.
Uncovering the School Bus Signs
In order to observe the rules of the road and school buses alike, you must first understand them. Ever wonder what the lights and signs on a school bus mean? We’ve cracked the code.
1. Flashing hazard lights
This means the bus is coming to a stop but students will not be crossing the road. You are allowed, if in a legal passing zone, to pass the bus but always proceed with extreme caution as children waiting for a bus may be unpredictable.
2. Flashing yellow lights
These lights signify the bus is coming to a stop to pick up a student. The school bus driver must put these lights on 200 feet before a stop in order to warn other motorists, similar to the yellow traffic light in an intersection.
3. Red flashing lights, sometimes accompanied by a red stop arm sign
The school bus is about to stop and pick up a student or drop one off. Other vehicles must stop immediately when these lights go on, even if the school bus is still in motion. Once the school bus comes to a halt, everyone must do the same. Even if it is a four-lane highway, if the lanes are divided by painted lines, you must stop.
Individuals who violate NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law and illegally pass a school bus are subject to fines ranging from $250-$400 and five points on their driver’s license for a first conviction, with fines increasing for subsequent convictions. New York State Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) estimates that some 50,000 motorists pass stopped school buses every day in New York State alone. This is simply unacceptable.
Child safety is of utmost importance, especially during the school year. We, as a community, must follow these safety tips and respect both the school bus driver and the rules of the road. Those yellow school buses are responsible for getting our children to and from school safely, and, as such, the least we can do is remain alert and courteous to yellow school buses everywhere.
If you’ve been injured in a school bus accident, contact the Brindisi, Murad, Brindisi & Pearlman Law Firm today. You deserve an experienced accident lawyer in Central New York. The People’s Lawyer offers free legal advice in the form of an initial consultation. We hope it never happens, but if you are in need of a school bus accident lawyer, contact Brindisi, Murad, Brindisi & Pearlman today.
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