Drivers often disregard school bus passing laws, which can have tragic consequences.
 - Screenshot via CBS News.

Drivers often disregard school bus passing laws, which can have tragic consequences.

Screenshot via CBS News.

With school back in full swing, now is a good time to remind fleet drivers of best practices for driving safely in school zones.

In 2015, U.S. drivers illegally passed school buses more than 13 million times. Ignoring school bus traffic regulations is not only illegal, it can have tragic consequences for children and drivers alike. About eight children lose their lives every year to drivers who disregard school bus stop signs.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and other experts offer the following advice:

  • Slow down: When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, be aware of the speed limit and follow it or drive under it.
  • Be alert: Watch for children walking, playing or assembling near bus stops. Often at this time of year, it is still dark outside when kids are walking to the bus or to school — making it difficult to see them.  Also, children arriving late for buses may suddenly dart out of nowhere, so it’s wise to be extra cautious.
  • Obey school bus laws: Drivers must follow school bus laws — regardless of which direction you are traveling. Here is how NHTSA explains the laws and the proper driver behavior:

Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is about to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop. 

Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on and off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights cease flashing, the extended stop arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving, before they can start driving again.

  • Know the danger zones: Not all kids ride the bus so be on the lookout for children crossing unmarked intersections and roadways. In addition, pay extra attention when making right turns or at red lights — kids are small and you can’t always spot them as easily as adult pedestrians.

Watch a video from CBS News to learn more about driving safely in school zones and near school buses.

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