Many drivers are confused about the exact school bus laws and proper right of way rules. It is estimated that over 50,000 motorists illegally pass buses every single day. School buses flash yellow lights when preparing to stop to let children off the bus. The yellow flashing lights warn you to slow down and prepare to stop. When the bus flashes red lights (located at the top front and back of the bus), you must stop from either direction until the children are safely across the street and the lights stop flashing*. The law requires you remain stopped as long as the red lights are flashing. Keep in mind that older-model school buses do not have the red stop sign that folds out. So as long as you see the flashing lights come on, a driver of a vehicle meeting or overtaking the stopped bus from either direction must stop and wait until the bus moves again or the red lights are off.
What else can we do to keep our children safe on their way to and from school? Parents should talk to their children about a few school bus safety rules. For example, when the bus approaches, make sure children know to stand away from the curb and line up away from the street. Teach them to wait until the bus stops, the door opens and the driver says that it is OK before stepping onto the bus. Remind them to use the handrails when entering and exiting the bus.
In addition, if they have to cross the road, make sure they wait on the sidewalk or side of street, and when it is time to cross the street, they should wait for the bus driver to guide them safely across the road. Children should never walk behind the bus and, if they drop something near the bus, make sure they tell the bus driver. Children should never try to pick up items near the bus because the driver’s view may be obstructed.
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) school transportation is eight-times safer than riding in a car with parents or guardians. However, most school bus-related deaths and injuries occur while children are crossing the street. To help keep children safe, motorists should pay close attention to school buses and be aware and obey the flashing lights.
*According to Section 22454 of the California Vehicle Code, if a driver fails to stop for a school bus, one can receive a fine for $1000.00.
Content provided by permission of Glenshire/Devonshire Residents Association.