Sharing The Road With School Buses

Stop sign on school busWe’ve all been there – caught up in the morning rush when suddenly we find ourselves behind a school bus. Naturally, frustration can get the best of us when we’re in a hurry, but having a little patience can go a long way – and save lives. Instead of trying to pass the bus at the first opportunity, keep these tips in mind that can help keep everyone safe on the road.

Reminders for drivers

Stay alert for flashing lights on a bus – School buses flash yellow lights to warn drivers of an impending stop. Drivers should treat yellow flashing lights the same as a yellow stop light, and decrease their speed to prepare to stop as well.

Prepare to stop when you see red – DO NOT PASS when the lights are flashing red because the bus has stopped to pick up students that may be crossing from the other side of the road. Unless the bus in on a divided highway, all traffic should stop to allow the bus to load or unload students.

It’s illegal to pass a stopped school bus flashing red – Laws in all 50 states forbid cars from passing a school bus that has red flashing lights on and its stop sign extended, yet a 2015 survey by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) estimates more than 78,000 vehicles illegally pass buses on any given day. If you’re caught illegally passing a bus, it’ll make a dent in your wallet – fines can often run a couple hundred dollars and could add several points to your license.

The cops don’t have to enforce the law either – Twelve states (and counting …) have begun equipping buses with cameras to photograph license plates of offenders who then receive a citation in the mail.

School buses stop frequently – Maintain a safe following distance of at least 2-3 seconds. This habit helps you better anticipate stops, and allows for more reaction time if children are trying to cross the street.

Safety tips for students

Be ready before the bus comes – Running to catch the bus could potentially jeopardize your safety because most drivers don’t expect to see a person dart out in the street.

Give the smart device a break – Talking on the phone or listening to music while walking to the bus stop means you won’t be fully aware of your surroundings. You’ll have plenty of time to jam out and browse Instagram once you grab a seat. Stay a safe distance away from the street while you’re waiting for the bus to come, and wait until the bus comes to a complete stop before approaching to climb aboard.

If drivers make an extra effort to share the road and drive defensively, and students stay mindful of traffic around, everyone will have safer travels throughout the school year.

Rush hour getting you down? Check out our tips for Defensive Driving in Heavy Traffic.

By Mike Young

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Jorge Morales says

    It’s true all about school buses, but they should remember, they’re transporting kids and should always be careful and be better safe drivers. I’ve seen some of them do things that break the law… It happened this morning where I was leaving a garage and the driver as to pick up two students sopped almost in front of me blocking my view and I had to make a sharp cut because of his/her parking. This was on a busy street and got to close to the front part of my vehicle and couldn’t back up due to a vehicle behind me, so I had to make a sharp turn to get out avoiding an accident. He/She started to blow the horn on me very loudly.

  2. Teresa says

    Thanks for the school bus info. I was not sure if traffic is required to stop on a divided highway. What about a four lane with no divider? I see a lot of confusion about this. Some cars stop and some don’t when they are on the far lane away from the bus facing it.

  3. Ilene says

    Thanks for including school bus safety. As a retired school bus driver I, and all drivers, appreciate the reminders.

  4. Greg Funk says

    People definitely need to review the rules and regulations of the road. I’ve seen drivers nearly cause accidents by coming to a stop on the opposite side of a divided road when the see a bus lights flash red. You do not pass a bus dependent on the type of road.
    Secondly, it’s hard to be patient when the bus stops every other house or so to drop one kid off. Since when did we start curb-side-service? What happened to “School Bus Stops”? Have we become so insecure as parents that we think our kid is unsafe being dropped off a few houses or a block from home?