Millions of students are carried by school buses each year, making these huge vehicles common on the roads when school is in session. While these vehicles are equipped with a number of safety features to help protect passengers and others, serious accidents still happen. The National Safety Council reports that 130 people were killed in accidents involving school buses in 2013 alone, and many more were hurt. Unfortunately, many of these injuries may have been prevented if more people took safety around school buses seriously. Whether you ride the bus or just share the road, help make 2015 a safer year for everyone with these simple safety tips.
School Bus Riders
Children and even teenagers should understand some simple rules for keeping themselves safe at the bus stop and while in transit.
- Always be aware of surrounding traffic.
- Make sure you have enough time to get to the bus stop safely.
- Avoid wearing a hood or earphones that might interfere with your ability to hear or pay attention to traffic.
- Stay away from the street while you wait for the bus, and don’t “horse around.”
- Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before getting on or off.
- Use the handrail when using the steps to get on or off.
- Get seated as soon as possible, and remain seated while the bus is moving.
- Never stick hands, arms, or anything else out the window.
- Take 10 “giant steps” back from the curb when the bus is approaching.
- Make sure the driver is able to see you when you are walking near the bus.
- Listen to the driver and wait for his or signals that it’s safe to get off the bus or cross the street.
- Be courteous and respectful while you’re riding.
School buses make many stops on their routes, and often carry children who can make unpredictable decisions. If you drive in areas where school buses are active, here are some ways that you can safely share the road:
- Stay alert, and follow the rules of the road. You should be watching for buses when school is in session, but you should also be watching for kids who may be hurrying to the stop, crossing the street, or just getting off the bus. Keep an eye out for flashing lights, school zone warnings, and other signs that young passengers may be present, and always follow posted speed limits.
- Give the bus enough room. When you’re behind the wheel, allow a school bus a little more room than you might with other vehicles. Buses make frequent stops, and it’s important that you have time to react. If you’re stopping for a bus that is loading or unloading passengers, you should stop with a little extra distance to spare so they have enough room to get on and off the bus without harm.
- Never pass a stopped bus. You should never try to pass a school bus that is stopped, especially from behind. It creates a dangerous situation for passengers who may be entering or exiting, and it is illegal in every state in the nation. Remember that all traffic in all lanes behind the bus must stop on divided roads, and all traffic in both directions must stop on undivided roads in Illinois.
- Be patient. Always come to a complete stop behind stopped school buses, and wait until the bus moves away and all children have moved to a position of safety before proceeding.
Pedestrians and Bicyclists
The National Safety Council estimates that about eight school-age children are killed each year in accidents while walking near school transportation vehicles, and many other pedestrians are also at risk. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re on foot or on your bike:
- Bus drivers may have limited visibility, even with large mirrors, so make sure they can see you. It may be difficult for the driver to see if you are walking or riding very close to the bus, especially near the tires. Whenever possible, avoid walking or riding behind the bus.
- Be prepared for buses to stop suddenly, and watch for young passengers who may dart out in front of you.
- If you’re on a bike, remember that you also have to follow the rules of the road. You must stop with the other traffic for stopped school buses.
School buses aren’t the only danger to students, drivers, and pedestrians in August and September. Are you ready to learn more? Check out our blog, and read up on some great tips for general safety during back-to-school season.
Although you and your child may follow the rules, you can’t always count on other drivers, pedestrians, and passengers doing the same. If you or your child has been seriously hurt in an accident involving a school bus, contact our experienced Chicago personal injury team today 312-332-1400 for help protecting your rights and getting answers.