School buses tend to be large and slow moving, and they often stop frequently for reasons including drop-offs, pick-ups, and even railroad tracks. Because of their special function and their sometimes unusual behavior while in traffic, it is important to know a few basic things about what to expect from school buses on the road.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_column_text]It is also vital to have some knowledge about laws that are applicable to school buses. These laws were put in place to make students and motorists safer, and understanding as well as following them is of key importance, especially for drivers new to the road.
In this article, a list of things every driver should be aware of concerning school buses and their behavior will be presented.
Practice patience around school buses
School buses are not sports cars. They are large and heavy trucks, designed this way to provide maximum protection for the occupants. Their main function is to pick up children on their way to school and to drop them off afterwards. Because of this they make frequent stops. Because of these factors, when driving around a school bus drivers should be sure to exercise patience.
Practice defensive driving skills around school buses
It is not the time to drive aggressively when operating a motor vehicle in the vicinity of school buses. Rather, drivers should cultivate an attitude of caution, and be sure to anticipate the moves of any other drivers.
Maintain the proper distance from school buses
It is important to maintain a safe distance when driving behind school buses. When driving on roads or highways, drivers should be sure to maintain at least 3 car lengths behind any school buses, and at highway speeds this distance should be increased. When a school bus comes to a stop, drivers should stop their vehicles no closer than 10 to 20 feet. Drivers should be sure to stop even when they are approaching the school bus from the opposite direction in the opposing lane. Remember that this is not just a suggestion, it is the law in all 50 states.
Stop the car completely and wait when school buses are loading or offloading
When a school bus is flashing its yellow lights that indicates that it is preparing to stop, and drivers should prepare to stop their vehicles as well. When it is stopped, its red lights are flashing, and its stop sign is extended, this means that it is taking on or dropping off passengers. Drivers in either lane are required by law to remain at a stop until the stop sign has been retracted and the flashing red lights are switched off.
Drivers should remember that most school bus related fatalities occur when drivers attempt to pass a school bus that is at a stop.
Exercise care when overtaking a school bus
Drivers should only attempt to pass a school bus when in a legal passing zone, and should be extra careful when they do so. This is because school buses have large blind spots and it may be difficult for bus drivers to see smaller vehicles.
Keep in mind that children act unpredictably
Even when the red lights and the stop sign have been deactivated, there are usually still children in the vicinity. They do not always act in predictable ways, and have been known to unexpectedly dart across the road. For this reason, drivers should be extra careful when getting underway after a school bus stop.
School buses are integral parts of the community, and are here to stay. If safe and intelligent drivers follow these simple rules, the traffic laws, and use common sense, they and those around them will have a great chance of remaining safe and sound.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]