School is back in session for many of our readers. That means the roadways are full of new hazards from school buses to children walking to and from school. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that “more school-age pedestrians have been killed during the hour before and after school than any other time of day.”
To avoid the physical, emotional, and financial burden of a school bus or pedestrian related accident, make sure that you develop these back-to-school driving habits:
- Be aware of your surroundings. Children can be extremely unpredictable. They may not think through the consequences of running back onto the road to retrieve a dropped pencil or crossing the street without looking both ways, so it’s important as a driver that we are alert and ready to respond to any situation.
- Follow bus signals. Buses have lights and a stop sign for a reason. Make sure that you slow down if a bus is flashing yellow and stop if it is flashing red. Disregarding bus signals could land you in a heap of legal trouble, not to mention the danger of injuring a child or worse.
- Slow down. It can be tempting to speed through school zones, but it is important to remember that those school zones are there for a reason. Large numbers of children will be walking to and from school and being dropped off in this area, so it is important to slow down so that you can stop quickly should a child come onto the roadway unexpectedly.
- Be prepared to stop. Buses stop frequently - at yield signs, at railroads, and to drop off and pick up children at their homes. If you are following a bus, don’t be distracted by your phone, the radio, food, or anything else that might cause you to look down and miss the brake lights of the bus in front of you. It is also important to leave plenty of space between your vehicle and the bus for this same reason.
- Allow extra time. Once school starts, it may take you a little longer to get to work or wherever else that you may be going. Take this into account and leave a few minutes early. Running late is one of the main causes of reckless driving and speeding, both of which could get you into a lot of trouble around school buses and zones.
- Pass with caution. Being stuck behind a bus can be extremely frustrating when you are trying to get somewhere. If you are following a bus and their flashing yellow and red lights are off, make sure that you still use caution before passing. Buses require more time to pass due to their size and they can hinder your visibility. It is also important to know that it is illegal to pass buses on the right hand side.
- Be aware of blind spots. Even with their oversized mirrors, buses still have fairly large blind spots. Not to mention the added distraction of the dozens of kids filling the seats. Make sure you practice defensive driving around buses and try to keep your vehicle far enough away from the bus to be easily visible. If you see a bus trying to switch lanes, play it safe and back off to let them in rather than risking them not seeing you.
- Just breathe. If you’re running behind and you’ve been stuck behind a bus that seems to be stopping at every house, take a deep breath. Try to remember how important buses are in keeping children safe on their way to and from school. (2000 times safer than a car in fact!) Think about the safety of the children on board and avoid the dangerous road rage that can result from angry and frustrated driving.
We hope these tips will keep you safe on the road during this back-to-school season, and if you or your child are ever injured in a bus or pedestrian-related injury, make sure you contact The Boughter Law Office. We will review your case thoroughly and make sure that you get the compensation that you deserve!