Motorists and Back to School Safety

With school back in session throughout the Bluegrass State, it’s time to remind drivers about safety in school zones, around school buses, and near pedestrians. Despite annual calls for caution, there are serious accidents every year. In 2015, there were over 850 school bus-related crashes in Kentucky, resulting in 297 injuries and three deaths. Motor vehicle safety and pedestrian awareness are always important, but paying extra attention to help ensure the well-being of our children is something everyone can do when they get behind the wheel. During those congested times when kids are walking or biking to and from school, waiting for the school bus, and boarding or exiting the bus, safety can be greatly improved simply when motorists follow posted speed limits and don’t drive while distracted. Additional driving tips include:

  • Allow more time to get where you need to go if you are traveling during peak school transportation hours.
  • Be patient. Aggressive driving near school buses is dangerous.
  • Never block the crosswalk with any part of your car.
  • Always obey directions from crossing guards and other safety representatives when in a school zone.
  • Imagine a 10-foot danger zone around each school bus you encounter. Keep your vehicle out of that area in order to give the bus the space it needs to maneuver, and to give children the space they need to safely enter, leave, and cross in front of the bus.
  • Watch the school bus for clues. Flashing yellow lights are warnings that the bus is about to stop to load or unload passengers. Red flashing lights and an extended stop-arm are used as alerts that the bus has stopped and students are getting off or on.
It is not only unsafe to pass a school bus that has stopped to pick up or drop off children, it is also illegal. Under state law, if any school bus used in the transportation of children is stopped on a highway for the purpose of loading or unloading passengers, with the stop arm and signal lights activated, the operator of a vehicle approaching from any direction must stop and not proceed until the passengers have loaded/unloaded and the bus has been put in motion. This does not apply to vehicles approaching a stopped bus from the opposite direction on a highway that has four or more lanes. Passing a school bus while it is loading or unloading is a Class B misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class A misdemeanor for the second offense. If you have school-age children at home, take a minute to discuss bus and pedestrian safety with them. Remind them not to act carelessly near traffic, to line up away from the street as the bus approaches, and not to step onto the road until the bus has come to a complete stop and the door has opened. Children should wait for a signal from the driver before crossing the road and should stay away from the rear of the bus at all times. Every student deserves to have safe transportation. Do your part by talking with your kids and being an extra attentive driver. If you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the personal injury attorneys at the Johnson Law Firm. We have years of experience helping people, and we can help you. We wish everyone a successful and safe school year, and while we hope that it passes without incident, we are here if you need us. Based in Pikeville, KY, we proudly serve communities throughout the Bluegrass State. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, contact us by calling 606-437-4488 or filling out our online form.

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