Now that the school year is in full swing, drivers need to be consistently conscientious that they are sharing the road with school buses. Young students also need to be aware of how to safely get to and from school using the bus. It’s a two way street, and the safety of children is the foremost concern. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration outlines some important guidelines below for students and drivers alike. Parents, explain to your child the importance of obeying these safety tips. Drivers, always keep these tips in mind when operating a vehicle around a bus full of schoolchildren. Also, remember the law (described below) regulating these activities. Disobeying the law will not only warrant you a steep penalty, but will more importantly cause you to risk the safety on of young children.
School Bus Safety Tips for Drivers:
• Obey the law: Under North Carolina law, G.S. 20-217, drivers going either direction must stop when a school bus is stopped to let children off. Drivers are not supposed to continue until the bus has completed dropping the children off and begun to move again.
• When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.
• When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be thinking of getting there safely.
• Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in neighborhood.
• Slow down. Watch for children playing and congregating near bus stops.
• Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street with out looking for traffic.
• Learn the “flashing signal light system” that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions:
o Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
o Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped, and that children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
School Bus Safety Tips for Students:
• Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
• When the bus approaches, stand at least three giant steps (6 feet) away from the curb, and line up away from the street.
• Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it’s okay before stepping onto the bus.
• If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you, and you can see the bus driver.
• Use the handrails to avoid falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings, and book bags with straps don’t get caught in the handrails or doors.
• Never walk behind the bus.
• Walk at least three giant steps away from the side of the bus.
• If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.