Motorists need to observe traffic safety rules around school buses. First and foremost, they must know and understand the 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.)
Motorists must learn the “flashing signal light system” that school bus drivers use to alert motorists that they are going to stop to load or unload students:
• Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
• Red flashing lights and extended stop arm indicate that the bus has stopped and that children are 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 Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red flashing lights are turned off, the stop arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they start driving again. For an easy-to-understand graphic, see http://www.scdps.gov/tz/docs/school-bus-safety-poster.pdf.
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 walking or bicycling to school.
• When driving in neighborhoods and especially in school zones, watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be thinking about getting there safely.
• Slow Down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially where there are no sidewalks. Watch for children playing and 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.