Safety tips for motorists

Motorists must understand and observe traffic safety rules and school bus laws in their state. In particular, they must be aware that it is illegal, in all 50 states, to pass a school bus that has stopped to load or unload students. Ninety-five percent of the respondents in a recent telephone survey ranked this as the most dangerous of all illegal or unsafe driving practices. In fact, collisions involving motorists who illegally passed a stopped school bus accounted for almost one-fourth of the pedestrian fatalities in school bus-related crashes between 1989 and 1999.

All school buses use the flashing signal light system to alert motorists when they are going to stop to load or unload students. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles. Red flashing lights and an extended stop arm indicate that the bus has come to a complete stop and children will be getting on or off.
Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red flashing lights are turned off, the stop arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins to move before they can start driving again.  An easy-to-understand graphic can be downloaded here.

Motorists should also observe the following traffic safety rules:

  • When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking to the bus stop or bicycling to school.

  • When driving in neighborhoods and especially in school zones, watch out for children who may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be thinking about getting there safely.

  • Slow down, especially in areas where there are no sidewalks. Watch for children playing,  walking along the street, or gathering near bus stops.

  • Be alert and ready to stop. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.