School Bus Safety

Labor Day is just around the corner, so students are going back to school. That means more school buses on the roads, children walking to and from school, and teenagers driving to school. During this time, drivers should be extra cautious and on the lookout for children entering and exiting school buses as well as inexperienced teen drivers.

According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, most injuries and deaths involving school buses occur not from collisions, but rather when children are crossing the street to get on a bus or while exiting a bus. All drivers should be aware of state laws pertaining to school buses, including:

When to stop for a school bus: Flashing yellow lights warn drivers when the bus is preparing to stop. Once stopped, flashing red lights and signs on the left side of the bus will alert drivers to stop. Even if there is no sign, drivers are required to stop whenever a school bus is displaying flashing red lights.  Drivers may not pass the bus until the flashing lights are turned off or if the driver of the bus or a traffic officer indicates that it is safe to proceed.

Who must stop: New York State law requires drivers on both sides of the street to stop for a school bus. This law applies to all streets and roadways, even divided highways.

What is considered a school bus: Most school buses are painted bright yellow and are clearly marked with the words, “School Bus.” However, the law applies to any vehicle that is being used as a school bus, even if it is not painted yellow, including vans, city buses, and church buses, if “school bus” is clearly printed and visible.

Even after being given permission to proceed, drivers should exercise great care when passing a school bus. Although the bus driver is required to wait until all children have crossed the street before allowing traffic to proceed, children can be unpredictable. A child may have forgotten something on the bus and walk or run back across the street to retrieve it. He may run back over to talk to a friend. He could bend down to tie his shoe, causing him to not pay attention to his surroundings.

Although collisions with school buses are not common, they can occur when other drivers are not observant. School bus drivers, for example, are required to stop at railroad crossings, even if the life gate is up and the warning lights are not flashing. School buses, like other large vehicles, require more braking time, especially on wet or icy roads.

Finally, drivers should be mindful of the posted speed limits in school zones and in residential neighborhoods, especially during the hours when children are leaving for or returning from school.

Call a New York Accident Attorney

If your child is injured while riding a school bus or when entering or exiting a school bus, the attorneys at O’Brien and Ford can help. Visit our website at http://obrienandford.com/, or call 716-907-7777 for a free, no-obligation consultation.