As kids return to school this week the roads become more crowded, and people are more impatient when driving to work. Please remember the important safety laws involving school buses and when you are permitted to pass them. Of course, we should always use extra caution when driving near school buses, but whether you are required to stop when they stop depends on the type of road you are on.
If you are driving on a two-lane road: Vehicles traveling in both directions must stop. Drivers must remain stopped until the road is clear of children and the school bus stop arms are withdrawn.
If you are driving on a multi-lane paved road: Vehicles traveling in both directions must stop. Drivers must remain stopped until the road is clear of children and the school bus stop arms are withdrawn.
If you are driving on a divided highway with an unpaved space, raised median or physical barrier in between each direction: Vehicles behind the bus must stop. Vehicles traveling in the opposite direction must proceed with caution.
The only time traffic approaching an oncoming school bus does not need to stop, is if there is a raised barrier such as a concrete divider or at least five feet of unpaved space separating the lanes of traffic. However, drivers should always use extra caution and slow down when students are getting on or off the bus.
If you illegally pass a school bus on the road, in addition to the obvious safety concerns to the children, here are some of the penalties you can face:
- Minimum fine of $165, if you pass on the side where children enter and exit, you will receive a minimum fine of $265;
- Four points on your driver license (which will also likely increase your car insurance premiums); and
- Requirement to complete a basic Driver Improvement Course.
Here are some basic school bus safety tips from the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles that drivers should abide by:
- Be alert and watch for children especially near schools, bus stops, school buses and in school parking lots;
- Children on bicycles can be unpredictable and can make sudden changes in direction. Be especially careful when children are present in school zones and residential areas;
- Pay extra attention to lower speed limits in school zones;
- Watch for and obey signals from school crossing guards;
- Only drive or park in authorized areas to drop off or pick up children at school; and
- Motorists are required to stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing and stop arms extended.
Parents and their children going to school must also be alert and safe when going to school. Here are some tips:
- Arrive at the bus stop with about five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive;
- At bus stops, children should wait in a safe place away from the road. Never sit on the roadway or curb while waiting for your bus;
- Make sure your children know their bus driver’s name and bus number;
- Tell children to never speak to strangers at the bus stop or get into the car with a stranger. Children should tell parents, the bus driver and a teacher at school if a stranger tries to talk to them or pick them up;
- Children should never walk behind a bus and should stay away from bus wheels at all times. When the bus stops, children should wait for the driver’s signal that it is safe to cross the road or board the bus;
- Children should look both ways before crossing the street- look left, right, and left again. Tell them to make eye contact to make sure the bus driver can see them as they cross the street;
- On the bus, children should remain seated at all times and keep the aisle clear. Tell children not to put their head, hands or arms out the window;
- Children should avoid any loud or disruptive behavior that could distract the bus driver from safely operating the bus.
Our attorneys at Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith have represented many kids who were injured as a result of the negligence of drivers who were not abiding by the rules of the road pertaining to school buses. Please follow these laws and also inform your kids of these helpful tips to keep them safe. An alert child means a safer child. If you or someone you know is the unfortunate victim of an accident caused by the driver’s negligence involving a school bus-related accident, please contact our experienced attorneys at Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith so we can sort through and explain the many important issues that should be considered.
This blog was written by Firm Partner Glenn Siegel.