Sharing the Road with School Buses
Drivers, of all vehicles, should be attentive and drive cautiously around school buses, school bus stops, in and around school zones, and school parking lots where children may be present. Pennsylvania’s School Bus Stopping Law requires motorists to stop at least 10-feet behind a school bus with their red lights flashing and stop arm extended. Stopped vehicles should not proceed until all children have exited the school bus and reached a place of safety, away from traffic. Sadly, motorists break the law and risk children’s lives when they fail to stop for the school bus as children enter or exit the school bus. It is estimated that over 10 million drivers illegally pass school buses every year.
Drivers and parents can make school bus transportation safer for everyone by following these safety practices:
- When backing out of a driveway or entering a road or intersection, look for children walking or bicycling to school.
- Be Alert
- Watch for children playing and gathering near bus stops.
- Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
- Slow Down
- Follow the slower speed limits in school zones.
- Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in neighborhood.
- When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch out for children who are walking to the bus stop or school, but may not be exhibiting safe pedestrian behaviors.
- Watch for and obey signals from school crossing guards.
- Obey the school bus law and adhere to the requirements of the “flashing signal light system” that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of their pending actions:
- Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
- Red flashing lights and extended stop arm indicates the school bus has stopped and children are getting on or off.
- Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing and the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, children have reached a safe place away from traffic, and the school bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
- Only drive or park in authorized areas to drop off or pick up children at school.
Parents should review safety tips with their children to make sure they are safe when walking to school or the bus stop and when they are near school buses and in school zones. Teach children to remain alert and follow these safety practices:
- Rules for Intersections: Explain to children the meaning of traffic signs and signals and show them how to use pedestrian walk and don’t walk signals. Teach them to watch for cars making a turn.
- SEE and BE SEEN: Teach children how to make eye contact with drivers before they cross in front of a vehicle or school bus. Show them that they cannot see or be seen if they try to cross too close to parked cars. Teach children to look around parked cars and bushes that block their view. Dress children in white or bright colored clothing so they are more easily seen when outdoors. Use reflective materials and have them carry a flashlight in low light conditions.
- Streets are for Vehicles: Make it a rule not to play in the street. When walking on a street that has no sidewalks, teach children to stay along the side of the road or grass and walk facing traffic.
- No Dashing Out: Tell children never to dash out into the road without stopping and looking for traffic. Explain how hard it is for a vehicle to stop quickly and a driver may not see them especially if there are parked cars or bushes around.
- PennDOT: School Bus Safety
- PennDOT: School Bus Stopping Facts
- PennDOT Driver & Vehicle Services: School Transportation Frequently Asked Questions
- NHTSA: School Bus Safety