School buses are one of the safest forms of transportation on the road today. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, riding a bus to school is 13 times safer than riding in a passenger vehicle and 10 times safer than walking to school.
The reality of school bus safety is that more children are hurt outside the bus than inside as passengers. Most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related crashes are pedestrians, four to seven years old, who are hit by the bus or by motorists illegally passing a stopped school bus.
For this reason, it is necessary to know the proper laws and procedures for sharing the road safely with school buses:
• All 50 states have a law making it illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
• School buses use yellow flashing lights to alert motorists that they are preparing to stop to load or unload children. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm signals to motorists that the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off the bus.
• All 50 states require that traffic in both directions stop on undivided roadways when students are entering or exiting a school bus. • While state laws vary on what is required on a divided roadway, in all cases, traffic behind the school bus (traveling in the same direction) must stop.
• The area 10 feet around a school bus is where children are in the most danger of being hit. Stop your car far enough from the bus to allow children the necessary space to safely enter and exit the bus.
• Be alert. Children are unpredictable. Children walking to or from their bus are usually very comfortable with their surroundings. This makes them more likely to take risks, ignore hazards or fail to look both ways when crossing the street.
• Never pass a school bus on the right. It is illegal and could have tragic consequences.
Our Cobb County school buses travel over 68,000 miles a day transporting students. Several buses have been equipped with cameras to record possible violations on video. They were installed starting in 2010. As of March, 2013 Cobb police have issued 2,171 citations. The tickets, which are all handled as civil cases, cost $300 for a first offense, $750 for a second offense and $1,000 for each additional violation for five years.
BEST ADVICE: STOP, STOP, STOP for the school buses and the children.