Going to and from school by bus is actually the safest transportation option for children; more so than riding in their own parent’s car or even walking. And while school bus accidents represent a tiny percentage of overall vehicle crashes, children are most at risk when they’re getting on and off the bus.
This is why it’s important to not only spend time educating your children about school bus safety, but also to be an informed driver when it comes to sharing the road with those bright yellow buses.
Are school buses safe?
In Cobb County, 875 bus drivers make stops along 870 bus routes per day, transporting over 72,000 students. Fulton County has the fourth largest school bus fleet in the entire state, and more than 78,000 students are transported to and from 111 schools each day.
While buses may not always get to your stop on time, less than one percent of all traffic fatalities involve children riding on school transportation vehicles. This means school buses are safe, but both those riding them, and those driving past them, must understand that there are school bus safety rules to follow.
School bus pick-up and drop-off rules
For students riding a bus, the most vulnerable time for an accident is when they’re getting on in the morning and getting off in the afternoon. That’s because it’s no longer just about sitting down and following the safety instructions of the bus driver. Children now have to contend with other cars on the road.
While these cars have their own set of rules to follow, you must never assume they will. It’s best for bus riders to always look carefully and go slowly when walking toward a bus to board it and when heading home from the bus stop.
Other safety tips you should go over with your children include:
- Staying at least three large steps back from the curb as the bus approaches.
- Waiting for the school bus to come to a complete stop before heading toward the door (whether getting on or off).
- Maintaining eye contact with the bus driver when starting to cross in front of the bus, just to ensure you’re seen.
- Looking both ways each time you need to cross a street no matter what.
Buses are very large and have massive blind spots that can hide portions of the road. It also means a child may not see any cars nearby on the road. Especially when getting off the bus, make sure you always walk in front of the bus should you need to cross to the other side of the road. This allows the bus driver to keep up their stop sign, holding traffic for you to get to safety.
What to do as a car driver near a school bus
Driving around Kennesaw and beyond during school bus pick-ups and drop-offs requires some extra vigilance. You’re not only keeping watch on the cars around you, but you must also carefully watch school buses since they’ll make frequent stops in unmarked areas.
Based on the type of road you’re driving on, there are different protocols to follow, but Georgia school bus laws are extremely clear.
- On a two-lane road – vehicles going both directions must stop for a school bus. If you’re going in the opposite direction of the bus, anticipate children will be crossing the street.
- On a multi-lane road with no median separation or with a ‘chicken lane’ in the center – vehicles going both directions must stop. Even as the bus begins to move, do an extra check for any students on the road.
- On a divided road with a median – Vehicles in any lane behind the bus must stop. Those on the opposite of the street must slow down and use extreme caution while continuing to drive. It’s not likely that a child will cross over a median or barrier, but you need to proceed with caution.
When you do need to stop for a school bus, make sure you’re at least 20 feet away from the front or rear.
Decoding the bus lights
Knowing the school bus laws in Georgia is an essential first step to helping children stay safe, but you should also understand what a school bus is telling you with their lights.
When you’re near a school bus and lights start to flash yellow, the bus is slowing down and getting ready to load or unload children. You need to slow down accordingly since you’ll most likely be stopping as well.
When children are actively getting on or off the bus, the lights will flash red and a stop arm will come down. You must stop and wait for the bus to begin moving again before you start driving as well.
Staying on top of school bus safety facts matters
Whether you’re a driver, someone with children using the bus to get to and from school, or both, safety should always be top-of-mind. Keeping our bus riders safe means teaching bus riders how to act safely, but it also means drivers must carefully share the road. Following basic school bus safety rules will greatly reduce the risk of anyone finding themselves in an accident, but sometimes the inevitable does occur.
If you ever find yourself in an incident involving a school bus and need a personal injury lawyer, reach out to Nicholson, Silverbach & Watson. We provide a free consultation to evaluate your case and establish a customized plan of action that will get you the compensation you deserve.