Across the nation, school buses transport millions of children to school each day.
It’s widely known that riding on a school bus is safer than riding in a car; however, the challenge that has the potential to become a tragedy is once the child gets off the bus. In 2013, the state of Texas issued 566 tickets to drivers who illegally passed a stopped school bus. Do you know what the laws are in your state?
In the past, bus loading and unloading have proved fatal. In the 2015-2016 school year, a 16-year-old boy was killed when an oncoming vehicle didn’t stop while the stop arm and eight-way red lights were activated on the school bus from which he was leaving. There have been more school-age fatalities during the hour before and after school than the rest of the day. Drivers simply do not adhere to the STOP sign and red flashing lights on the bus.
In Texas, it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus in either direction when the STOP sign arm and/or red lights are activated. The only exception is when a physical barrier, such as grass or a concrete median, separates the lanes. In the event of a physical barrier, only the cars flowing in the same direction as the bus are required to stop. Drivers who violate this law can face up to a $1,250 fine.
To help bring awareness to bus and student safety, the National Association for Pupil Transportation observes National School Bus Safety Week, which occurs third full week each October. Some states are considering the addition of cameras to the bus STOP arms to help deter violations of the law.
If you are a driver, familiarize yourself with the laws in your state. If you or your children are pedestrians, stay vigilant and do not assume that drivers will adhere to the STOP arm extending from the bus. It could be a matter of life and death.
At SA-SO Signs & Safety, safety is our business, and we want to help make our communities safer. As the school year resumes, please pay careful attention to school buses and pedestrians.