Students return to school in mid-August. It’s an important time to be on the lookout for busier streets and an increase in traffic. With the extra traffic we’re likely to see more accidents too. Keep in mind to be extra vigilant when driving in the coming weeks, especially at morning and afternoon commute hours.
School buses will be out and about, as most students get to school via bus. While school buses are generally a safe mode of transport for students, it’s important to drive cautiously in and around schools, and when you are on the road near school buses. The NHTSA reports that students are safer getting to school via bus than in a private car. There is however the risk of accidents when students are getting on or off the bus.
You can do your part to avoid accidents as the school year gets underway, with all the school buses and increased pedestrian traffic. Here are a few important safety tips to keep in mind:
- You must always stop for a school bus that has its red stop lights blinking and stop signs extended and showing. This applies both when you are behind a school bus, or facing a bus that is driving in the opposite direction. You may not resume driving until the bus turns off its blinking lights and retracts its stop sign, and closes its door.
- As long as children are actively entering or exiting the school bus, stop your vehicle and remain stopped for the duration. Students assume that drivers will stop as they board or exit the bus, and may not be thinking about looking for vehicles. It’s the driver’s responsibility to stop when the bus signals.
- Motorists on the other side of a divided highway traveling in the opposite direction, or on a divided highway with an unpaved space of at least 5 feet do not have to stop, but it never hurts to stay alert for children in any case.
- Leave extra room between your vehicle and school buses, whether children are outside the bus or not. This helps prevent accidents, especially multiple vehicle pile-ups.
- Keep vigilant for school zones and bus zones. These areas have lots of pedestrians out and about. Note the reduced speed limits in these areas and obey them.
- Give plenty of space to school buses as they attempt to merge into traffic. The driver is concerned with navigating a large vehicle as well as the distractions of the students on board, so give them a break!
As traffic increases with the season, be aware that if you get into an accident, you may be entitled to compensation. It’s important to seek qualified legal help if you want to pursue a case. Traffic laws can be complicated, especially with the added caveat of school zones.