It’s back to school time. We’re sharing the road with children. They’re walking to school, riding bikes or riding in yellow school buses. Children have reduced standards of care. They are only expected to act as safely as children of the same age, education and experience. That’s the law.
Adult drivers must obey signage and roadway markings for school zones. 20 MPH is the limit. Go more slowly if the circumstances require it. Children can “dart out” in the road at any given moment.
Yellow school buses have specific rights to stop, pick up children and to unload children. While stopped, school buses have special marker lights that you must obey. DO NOT pass a yellow school bus that is stopped dropping off children, it is a serious traffic violation. There are important rules and tips that we can all follow to ensure safety on the road for young commuters.
According to the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus related incidents are 4-7 years old and they’re walking to or from their bus. In 2020, 54 people were killed and 4,800 were injured in school-bus related crashes.
A motorist illegally passing a stopped school bus is subject to a very heavy criminal charge. Never pass a bus from either direction if it is stopped to load or unload children. Remember that the area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children. Give children enough space to safely enter and exit the bus and always be cautious of children around you, as they are often unpredictable and tend to ignore hazards.
Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles on the road, but young cyclists require extra space and attention. Be mindful that children sharing the road with motorists are not able to properly determine traffic conditions as well as an adult can. Young cyclists are more likely to turn in front of you without looking or signaling. Remember to be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods.
If you’re dropping children off at school, please remember the following:
- Educate yourself on the school’s drop-off procedures for the school year.
- DO NOT load or unload children across the street from the school.
- Don’t double park, as it could block visibility for other children and vehicles.
- Carpooling reduces the number of vehicles on the road and at the school.