Let’s Talk About School Bus Safety
School busses have an extremely important job—to transport our young children to and from school in a way that’s safe. A major factor as to how this is possible is because school buses are protected by a number of safety laws and required procedures that other drivers must follow.
Do you know what to do if you encounter a school bus? While this is a common lesson during driver’s ed classes, it’s always surprising how many people don’t realize what’s required of them if they encounter a school bus. To help, this blog has some valuable tips, including explaining laws you need to follow, and offering some best-practice safety tips.
Do You Know the Bus Stop Laws in Your State?
There are some federal bus stop safety laws that are required in every state and every state has the ability to write and enforce their own state laws that exceed those standards. For example, every state in the country requires drivers to come to a complete stop if they encounter a school bus which is pulled over and has its lights flashing. This is an indication that the bus is currently loading passengers and that there may be young children getting on or off the bus. This brief interruption to traffic flow is designed to keep kids safe on their travel to and from school.
Likewise, most states require you to stop if you encounter a bus traveling in both directions on a road. That means even if the school bus is on the other side of the street and will be driving back in the direction you just came from, you still need to come to a complete stop until the bus turns off its lights. This is because pedestrians may be walking into the street from either side in order to reach the bus before it takes off.
Most states allow drivers on the opposite side of the street to continue driving, but only if there is a physical median or barrier dividing traffic going opposite directions.
Likewise, many states require drivers to stop not at the bus itself, but a good distance before getting to the bus. For example, New York, Wisconsin, and Colorado require drivers to stop 20 feet before reaching a bus, while New Hampshire and New Jersey require 25 feet.
Every state has different requirements for what a bus looks like when they’re pulled over to pick up passengers. While just about every state requires some form of flashing lights on the bus (usually red in color), some states require that the bus also extend its stop arm (the stop sign located on the side of the bus). Some states require lights flashing in a particular pattern as well to prevent confusion between a bus that’s picking up children and a bus that may be broken down.
Buses are required to do a few things different when out on the road. For starters, they’re required to keep their speeds low to protect the kids on board and encourage safety. Because these vehicles are so large, higher-speed travel becomes even more dangerous. This often means you’ll find these vehicles in the furthest right-hand lane they can be in, unless they need to make a left turn up ahead.
Buses also have another odd quirk to how they drive—they stop and open their door temporarily at every railroad crossing. This so the driver can listen for the sound of an approaching train. The reason for this behavior is rooted in tragedy—the worst school bus accident in history happened in a collision between a bus and a train. The bus driver simply couldn’t see the oncoming train because of bad weather. However, this few extra seconds of caution has prevented anything like this from happening ever since. So the next time you’re stuck behind a bus that unexpectedly stops before crossing railroad tracks, just remember—it could save the lives of everyone on board.
About Christian Brothers Automotive
At Christian Brothers Automotive, keeping you and your family safe in your own vehicle is one of our number-one priorities. Whether it’s outfitting you with new brakes, rotating your tires to keep them in good condition, or fixing an issue that could leave you stranded and waiting for help, we make it our mission to provide you with quality repairs and outstanding customer service.
Contact your local Christian Brothers Automotive for a safety inspection, repair, or maintenance service today!