Some 109 people lost their lives in school bus-related crashes in 2019 alone, according to the National Safety Council. With September upon us, children across the country head back to the classroom. Now is a good time to remind your fleet drivers about best practices for driving in school zones and around school buses.
School buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). School buses are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries. Moreover, in every state, stop-arm laws exist to protect children from other motorists.
Even so, fatalities happen. NHTSA data shows that from 2010 to 2019, about 69% of the deaths in school bus-related crashes were occupants of vehicles other than the school bus, and 17% were pedestrians. About 6% were school bus passengers, 5% were school bus drivers, and 3% were pedal cyclists.
When your drivers approach a school bus, they know that children’s lives are at stake — but so are their own. To protect everyone, impress the following school bus-related safety practices on your drivers:
- Yellow flashing lights on a school bus send the message to slow down because the bus is preparing to stop. There are likely students waiting to get on the bus or parents waiting to pick up children. In short, slow down and be on the lookout for pedestrians.
- Red flashing lights mean you must make a full stop — and wait at least 20 feet behind the bus — because children are boarding or de-boarding the bus. Stay stopped until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving.
- When driving in any school zone, obey the speed limits and be extra vigilant about watching out for children, especially in the morning or mid-afternoon.
- Never drive distracted, but especially in school zones or near school buses. Stow your cell phone, pull over if you need to eat, and don't fiddle with the radio or GPS while behind the wheel.