School Bus Safety
Note: This was featured as part of our Wednesday segment on Charleston’s 105.5 The Bridge with Box in the Morning. You can catch us every Wednesday morning at 8:50 am ET for the latest law tips and legal news. You can listen to the segment below:
The start of the school year is upon us, and it’s time to start thinking about getting the kids to school. When it comes to getting your children to school safely, school buses are the best option for transportation.
You can take comfort in the fact that the school district and superintendents have done a lot of school bus safety preparation before the school year actually starts. The routes have already been prepared and are approved only after being screened for any possible hazards, such as large potholes or other potentially hazardous conditions. The bus stop areas are checked out and approved by officials as well.
The bus drivers have also been hired and undergone the appropriate preparation. School bus drivers are required to be experienced drivers of good moral character, and must pass physical exams to determine that they are fit to operate a school bus.
While many preparations have been made in regards to school bus safety on the part of the school district, there are steps you and your children should also take in order to make their school commute as safe as possible.
On the bus
When it comes to entering and exiting the bus, your children should always wait until the bus has come to a complete stop and the driver has told them it’s okay to do so. They should also be sure to use the handrail.
When waiting for the bus, make sure your child keeps a safe distance from the curb. The bus driver will better be able to see your child the farther away he or she is from the bus. And when traveling, make sure your children know to remain seated throughout the trip and keep their hands and belongings inside the windows and aisles.
On the road with school buses
If you are a commuter and share your route with school buses, here’s what you should know. It is illegal to pass a school bus in all 50 states. The South Carolina laws regarding school buses discourage passing a bus when its yellow lights are flashing, which signal that the bus is preparing to come to a complete stop.
When the red lights are flashing, you may not pass the bus. If you do pass a school bus when its red lights are flashing, you are subject to 6 points on your driving record and a fine of $1,000.
On the highway
On a two-lane highway, both traffic following the bus and traffic traveling the opposite way from the bus must come to a stop when the red lights are flashing. On a multi-lane highway (with four or more lanes), oncoming traffic is not required to stop for a school bus, but is strongly encouraged to approach with caution.
No matter how many lanes, you must always stop if you are following the bus. School buses may cause more congestion on routes, but drivers must be sure to practice patience when sharing the road.
Unfortunately, accidents can and do happen between school buses and other commuters. There are certain kinds of insurance coverages available that are allowed by the state statute, such as personal injury protection, which will cover expenses like medical bills regardless of who is at fault in an accident.
The most important thing for drivers, parents, and children riding school buses to remember is to always be cautious and aware. By doing so and following the above steps, we can all experience a safe and happy school year.