October 8, 2019 |
Car Accident Attorneys
, The Barnes Firm
With the new school year in full swing, school buses have returned to the streets and drivers must drive carefully to ensure the safety of school children getting on and off the school bus. This means abiding by the stop signs, paying attention to children who may be crossing the street before or after the bus stops, etc.
You may have noticed a careless driver speeding past a school bus as the children are exiting. Even if you haven’t been witnessed a reckless bus stop incident, you’ve likely seen the news stories of reckless drivers ignoring the laws designed to protect school children at bus stops.
Unfortunately, many children have been injured as a result of reckless driving at school bus stops, and even some reports of fatalities.
As a matter of fact, NBC News reports that “in 2019, school bus drivers reported more than 95,000 incidences of illegal passing on any given school day, bringing the total estimated violations well above 17 million during a single school year.” Check out this NBC News report here:
Driver safety guidelines are provided in every state in the U.S. in great detail in state driving handbooks and online. Even so, school bus safety is often ignored or overlooked to the detriment and injury of school children and their families.
Regardless of the state in which you live, school buses are protected under state and federal traffic laws.
Why? They are tasked with safely transporting the nation’s children to and from school – Without the appropriate standards to protect buses and their precious cargo, children would be in harm’s way, particularly when entering and exiting their buses.
Safety Guidelines for School Bus Safety
California Drivers Handbook – Rules for Driving Near Children’s School Bus Stops
According to the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles, when driving within 500 to 1,000 feet of a school while children are outside or crossing the street, the speed limit is 25 mph unless otherwise posted. Also, if the school grounds have no fence and children are outside, never drive faster than 25 mph. Some school zones may have speed limits as low as 15 mph.
Near schools, look for:
- Bicyclists and pedestrians.
- School safety patrols or crossing guards. Be sure to obey their directions. For the crossing guard’s safety, allow them to safely get to the side of the road before driving ahead.
- Stopped school buses and children crossing the street. Some school buses flash yellow lights when preparing to stop to let children off the bus. The yellow flashing lights warn you to slow down and prepare to stop. When the bus flashes red lights (located at the top front and back of the bus), you must stop from either direction until the children are safely across the street and the lights stop flashing. The law requires you remain stopped as long as the red lights are flashing (CVC §22454). If you fail to stop, you may be fined up to $1,000 and your driving privilege could be suspended for 1 year. If the school bus is on the other side of a divided or multilane highway (two or more lanes in each direction), you do not need to stop.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are designed so that they’re highly visible and include safety features such as,
- Flashing red lights
- Cross-view mirrors
- Stop-sign arms
- Protective seating
- High crush standards
- Rollover protection features
Make school bus transportation safer for everyone by following these practices outlined by NHTSA:
- When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.
- When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be thinking of getting there safely.
- Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in neighborhood.
- Watch for children playing and congregating near bus stops.
- Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
- Learn and obey the school bus laws in your state, as well as the “flashing signal light system” that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions:
- 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 arms indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
- School Bus Driver In-Service Safety Series – This refresher training provides nine lesson modules on driving a school bus, which is frequently requested by school bus drivers and pupil transportation supervisors.
The Consequences of Breaking the Law at School Bus Stops
No matter where you live, failure to obey the laws regarding school buses and bus stops, means steep fines, violation points, and strict penalties.
In many instances, the resulting penalties can include a significant number of points added to your record (often higher than the rate for reckless driving), a large fine, license suspension, and an increase in insurance premiums.
Under CVC 22454, California law requires you remain stopped as long as the red lights on the school bus are flashing. If you fail to stop, you may be fined up to $1,000 and your driving privilege could be suspended for 1 year. If the school bus is on the other side of a divided or multilane highway (two or more lanes in each direction), you do not need to stop.
If an injury occurs as a result of your actions, the penalties and associated trauma will be much steeper. If you aren’t sure of the school bus laws in your state, now is the time to find out.
Has Your Child Has Been Injured as a Result of Increased Reckless Driving at the Bus Stop?
If your child has been injured due to the reckless driving of someone operating a motor vehicle, you most likely have many unanswered questions and may be looking for legal advice to receive compensation for your loved one’s injuries.
Call The Barnes Firm today at (800) 800-0000 or fill out a contact form on our website for a FREE CONSULTATION today.