Late summer means pleasantly warm days, comfy cool nights, and back to school for the kids. You’ll be seeing a lot of those big yellow buses on the roads during your morning drive or your afternoon errands. Of course, all vehicles matter when it comes to road safety, but keep in mind that these buses are loaded with “precious cargo”—the sons and daughters of your fellow citizens.
If you’re a driver, there are several ways to make sure you’re promoting safety instead of creating potential problems. Follow these 5 steps to minimize the risk of accidents around those big yellow machines.
1. Slow down – Sure, you may run a bit behind in the morning now and then, and it might be tempting to cut a few corners or drop the pedal to avoid trouble at work. If you get behind a school bus, resist the temptation to pass it on a single-lane road, and don’t tailgate, as they tend to stop often. To put it bluntly, it’s not worth your hurry to endanger the safety of others.
2. Watch for signals – When a school bus is preparing to make a stop, its lights will [flash an amber color]. This means you should slow down and prepare to stop as well, whether you’re behind or approaching the bus from the opposite direction.
When the bus is about to stop, look for a red “STOP” sign to pop out from the driver’s side and red flashing lights. This means you must stop. It is against the law to go around as well as extremely dangerous. This may seem like common sense to some of us, but many [unfortunate accidents] occur every year due to drivers ignoring this rule.
3. Know the stops – If you take the same route to work every morning around the same time kids go to school, you might notice some bus stops along the way where kids are gathered. Take mental notes of where these places are so you remember to be extra cautious and aware when driving through those areas. Kids have lots of energy in the morning (can we borrow some of that?) and tend to be rambunctious at the bus stop. This means they may not be paying attention to the road or passing cars. It’s up to drivers to be aware in these situations, so keep it slow and maintain a safe distance.
4. Prepare for railroad tracks – This one is pretty straightforward. School buses typically are [required by law] to stop at all railroad crossings, so if you’re behind one at some tracks, don’t get frustrated or lay on your horn, and definitely do not try to pass. The driver is just doing what he or she is supposed to do in the name of safety (and the law).
5. Beware the wide turns – School buses tend to be long vehicles and therefore require [more room to make turns] than cars. If you’re in the passing lane going past a bus turning right, give it some room to swing wide enough to make the turn, and watch the tail end of the bus, as it tends to swing out a bit. If you’re behind a bus in the left lane, maintain some distance if it makes a left turn. The driver may swing to the right a bit first for tight turns. Don’t mistake this for a move to the right lane and try to pass it, as this can lead to a very serious collision involving you going head-on into the side of the bus. For any questions or a free consult please contact Zychowicz Skeldon Ltd. at 419.842.1166 or visit our website at toledoautolaw.com.