School has started, and things are already different for many families. With schools fully reopened just about everywhere, students have headed back for in-person learning, which means many of them are getting on and off buses once again. Most people don’t give it a second thought…until something tragic occurs.
Bus Stop-Related Accidents
Over the past few years, there have been many stories of accidents involving either a stopped school bus loading and unloading students or accidents that occurred at bus stops.
- In August, a junior at Columbus East High School in Columbus, Indiana, was killed while boarding her school bus. A driver completely ignored the stopped bus as well as its flashing lights, extended arm, and STOP sign, and struck the girl, who died from her injuries.
- Earlier in August, a school bus was struck by a vehicle in Summersville, West Virginia, as it stopped to unload students. The vehicle was attempting to pass the bus and narrowly missed one student, who was warned by the bus driver at the last second. She sustained minor injuries from flying debris.
- Back in October 2018, a driver blew past a school bus STOP sign and clipped a young student in Berks County, Pennsylvania, as she was walking from her bus to her home across the street. The bus had its arm deployed and its lights flashing, but the driver ignored these and passed the vehicle, hit the child, and kept driving. Fortunately the fourth-grader sustained only minor injuries.
These incidents should serve as a sobering reminder that many drivers simply ignore road safety laws and simply do not pay attention.
School Bus Laws and Safety Tips
It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that has stopped to load and unload children. Despite that, the National Safety Council reported in 2018 that 70% of school bus-related deaths occur outside the bus. And more school-age pedestrians have been killed during the hour before and after school than any other time of day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The National Safety Council offers these school bus safety guidelines for drivers:
- Never pass a bus from behind or in either direction if you’re on an undivided road if it is stopped to load or unload children.
- If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop.
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to enter and exit the bus safely.
- Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks.
For parents, the NHTSA recommends these tips when it comes to school bus and bus stop safety:
- Have your child at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus arrives, and show where to wait for the bus (at least six feet away from the curb).
- Remind your child that the bus stop is not a place to run.
- When the bus arrives, your child should wait until it has completely stopped, the door has opened, and the driver indicates it’s safe to board.
- Your child should never walk behind a school bus. If your child must cross the street in front of the bus, tell him/her to walk on a sidewalk or along the side of the street to a place at least 10 feet in front of the bus before crossing. Your child should also make eye contact with the bus driver before crossing to ensure the driver can see him/her.
Pedestrian Safety Tips For Drivers and School-Aged Children
Kids can’t be too careful when getting on and off the bus. The stories above prove that, even though laws and safety measures are in place, they’re not always followed. School-age pedestrians should always take extra precautions, making sure to look both ways before crossing a street–at all times. And with so many kids glued to their phones, it’s a good idea to reinforce how important it is to pay attention to their surroundings and not just assume vehicles will stop when they should.
Hopefully this is never the case, but if you should ever need our services for a school bus-related accident, The Lapidus Law Firm is always here for you. You can reach us at (202) 785-5111 or (301) 852-7500 for accident and personal injury legal needs. We are committed to making justice work for you.