Tips for Driving Safely Around Buses
Getting your driver’s license is one of best rites of passage out there, but it does entail learning the rules and learning to share the road with bikers, walkers, and one group you may not have considered—school buses. The following are tips to help you share the road with school buses and show why bus-related moving violations have serious penalties. It can be a serious shift going from riding school buses to sharing the road with them, but it’s one you must learn quickly.
- If you see a school bus in your lane or approaching you, always pay attention to it. Give the bus additional space and keep in mind you may have to stop suddenly when it’s unloading or loading kids.
- Because they exit on or near the road, children can be in danger when they get on or off buses. It’s a car owner’s responsibility to watch and make sure the coast is clear before continuing on.
- Keep these important rules in mind: school buses are required to stop at railroad crossings, and they travel at slower speeds because of their cargo. Slow down or pass with caution, and pay attention to the bus’s signals.
- School buses are big and have limited visibility. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated that from 2005-14, 35 percent of school-age pedestrians died in school bus-related accidents when they were struck by another vehicle on the road.
- Protecting children is the main priority—because of that, states have enacted many laws requiring cars to stop when school buses stop. These laws govern when you must stop your car for a bus or receive penalties for violations. Keep in mind that when you see bus lights flashing, be prepared to stop.
- Penalties for violating these laws vary from state to state, but every one of them takes violations very seriously. In New York, for example, if you fail to stop, the you get a fine between $250-$400 and can receive up to 30 days in jail in addition to five points added to your driving record. The penalties become harsher with each violation. In Pennsylvania, you can lose your license for two months, receive five points on your record, and be fined $250.
- It is illegal to pass a school bus loading or unloading passengers. Always stop. This includes public highways, multilane roads, parking lots, and school property.
- Buses can travel in caravans. If a bus in front of you has another bus in front that is unloading or loading kids, you must stop for that bus as well. State laws for school buses stopped on divided highways do vary, so remember to check them yourself.
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