School is back in session. And, just like past generations, kids were “tricked” into being excited about going back to school by getting new school clothes and supplies. Many kids will be walking to school, while some will be dropped off blocks away from school traffic and others will be let out in the middle of the road, hoping to survive for another school day. School zones will be active and buses will be present. Will you be practicing school bus safety?
Passing a school bus with its red lights flashing and stop sign out is against the law and carries a hefty fine. In the Lone Star State, the fine is a whopping $1250.00 and Judges will not allow you to take a defensive driving class to have the ticket dismissed and the fine reduced. Therefore, you would have to not only pay the entire fine amount, but the points would go on your driving record making your insurance increase considerably. Most drivers are aware that you must stop behind the bus, while many still pass the bus when these warning lights are activated. It is estimated that over 10 million drivers illegal pass school buses every year. The fine for this has not only increased if issued by a police officer, but many buses have been equipped with cameras for this reason. For economical reasons alone, one would think that everyone would stop behind a stopped school bus. Perhaps the issue here is not only respecting and valuing the lives of other people’s children, but when it’s really broken down for you (which I am going to do here if you read on), buses are much more valuable to us and should be respected for saving lives, fuel and air pollution.
EDUCATION: Taking the bus decreases truancy and increases the likelihood of children doing well in school. If half the battle is showing up for school, the school bus is helping us win the battle.
ENVIRONMENTAL and ECONOMICAL: School buses keep over 17 million cars off roads each year. One bus carries the equivalent of 36 cars. This saves families approximately 62 billion miles of driving, 2.6 billion gallons of fuel and 56.5 billion pounds of CO2.
SAVING LIVES: Students are 70% more likely to get to school safely if they ride a bus, rather than in a car. School bus drivers are the most highly trained, tested and scrutinized drivers on the road.
Since passing vehicles cause an estimated 2/3 of school bus loading/unloading fatalities, here is a wee bit of information to keep kids safe.
• More school-aged pedestrians are killed from 7-8 a.m. and 3-4 p.m. than any other time of the day.
• The Danger Zone: Motorists should not be within 10 feet radius around all sides of a school bus. A safe stop distance away from a school bus should be up to 25 feet when stop arm is out and red lights are flashing. Slow down when the yellow lights are flashing and prepare to stop. Do not attempt to pass the bus. Oncoming cars must drop speeds to 20mph or less. When stop arm is out, every driver behind the bus must stop. Oncoming cars must stop if there is only a painted line or a split/divide in the median (a divided highway will depend on certain situations).
So it’s critical that we learn and follow the laws pertaining to school buses in our own state.
You can find this information at http://www.nasdpts.org/Operations/documents/State_Laws_Regarding_Passing_School_Buses.pdf
Take a minute and educate yourself about these important laws.
Until next week…
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
School Bus Safety – Comedy Defensive Driving