School has been in full swing for thousands of children in the Phoenix area for some time now. They are used to grabbing their backpacks in the morning, making sure they have their lunch, and heading out the door to hop in a car, walk down the sidewalk, ride a bicycle, or grab the bus to get to school at this point, working on routine and often running a little on the late side.
According to experts, taking a school bus continues to be the safest means of transit for young children to get to and from school every day. The buses are designed with safety in mind and that helps explain why they are large, sturdy, bright yellow, and outfitted with many lights and stop signs. Even if a school bus accident does occur, students are less likely to be injured than they would be if they were in a smaller passenger vehicle like a car due to numerous safety designs.
But school bus drivers and the students themselves can only account for so much on their own when it comes to safety. It is also important that other drivers on the roadways, near school zones, and driving near a school bus do their part to guarantee that everyone remains free from an accident and that no one is injured unnecessarily.
The most important thing other drivers can do when they see a school bus is to respect the school bus and its need to do its job: picking up and dropping off students. If you happen to come across a bus on a residential road, be prepared for the bus to stop regularly and make sure you are ready to stop as well. It is illegal to pass a school bus that is actively picking up or dropping off children and beyond that, it is incredibly unwise as you are likely to cause an accident that may cause injuries to children or minors.
If you come upon a school bus that is stopped and has its stop signs and lights activated, bring your vehicle to a stop behind the school bus or across from it, depending on your vehicle’s location. Make sure you leave plenty of distance on the roadway for children to cross if necessary, remembering that though children should cross in front of the bus, they can be prone to unanticipated actions and may cross anywhere around the bus itself. Experts advise motorists to provide at least 10 feet of space in all directions surrounding a bus to make sure there is space for children and to keep the visual field clear and unobstructed for the sake of the bus driver.
If you happen upon a bus at or near a school zone, be patient. It can take a lot of time to fully load or unload a bus and it may be tempting to swerve around the bus or pass it to save yourself time but resist the urge to do so. Instead, understand how important it is for the children using the bus to be able to get on and off in a safe manner and try to stay calm as you wait. When the bus has finished its job and you are clear to do so, you may proceed with your intended route.
Remember that buses take longer to start and stop than a smaller passenger car does so expect a bus to drive more like a semi-truck in times of traffic. The bus will allow greater space between itself and a vehicle in front of it, provide a greater gap when stopping, and will be less likely to dart in and out of traffic. Consider mirroring those positive driving actions yourself by increasing the distance between your vehicle and a school bus and making sure the bus has plenty of room to maneuver, especially if the bus is turning or changing lanes.
Going to school should never be a hazardous activity that leads to harm for children in Maricopa County. If you drive during popular busing times, make sure to do your part to help children – whether they are your own or unknown to you – to remain safe and secure. Failing to do so may cause you to be legally liable for any harm that happens if a collision does result.
Prior Blog Entry:
About 4.5 Million People are Bitten by Dogs Every Year, Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog, published September 30, 2016.
Slow Down: Back to School Means Sharing the Road, National Safety Council.