National School Bus Safety Week is Oct. 16-20, 2023. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and many other organizations nationwide are urging drivers to slow down and be aware of school buses in their communities.
Although school buses are one of the safest modes of transportation, injuries and fatalities do occur outside of or near the buses. Statistically, the most dangerous times for children who ride school buses are when they are getting on or off the bus. Most often, these tragedies occur because a motorist has failed to slow down and obey the bus’s stop sign, or to follow local traffic laws.
Nationally, school bus passing is illegal and it is a deadly risk to bus riders and their caregivers. Drivers should always come to a complete stop when a school bus stop-arm is extended, and the red lights are flashing.
When a school bus’s red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, drivers must slow down and come to a complete stop!
This is not a suggestion — it’s the law. In fact, yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. This is when motorists should begin to slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles, not speed up to try and pass the bus before it stops.
The school bus loading and unloading area is called the “Danger Zone.” Specifically, this is any side of the bus where the bus driver can’t see the child and, therefore, the child is in the most danger. These areas include:
• 10 feet in front of the bus, where the driver may be sitting too high to see a child
• 10 feet on either side of the bus, where a child may be in the driver’s blind spots
• Behind the school bus