Thousands of Virginia students went back to school in September. The new school year brings many opportunities but also numerous dangers. Every year we see a spike in accidents involving school buses and other vehicles in the fall.
The greatest risk for students is not riding a bus, but approaching it and leaving it, states the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). About 25 million students take the school bus every day in America.
From 2008 to 2017, over 264 school-age children died in school-transportation-related wrecks. Most of the students who lost their lives were not on the bus. The NHTSA stated 203 of the victims were either walking to school, waiting for the bus, cycling or in another vehicle going to their school or back.
Whether you are walking to the school, driving or using a school bus you should follow school safety tips in Virginia. Drivers should:
Be aware yellow lights on a school bus mean slow down. Don’t speed up. The bus is preparing to stop. Watch out for students who are getting on the bus or parents who are nearby waiting to pick up children.
Red lights mean stop. You should wait at least 20 feet behind the bus. Students are likely to be crossing the road in front of you. Remain stopped until the red lights are no longer flashing, the stop arm goes up, and the bus moves off. Drivers who pass a school but with its flashing red lights on face a charge of reckless driving, a class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, this could mean up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500, states DMV.
Even when school buses are not loading and unloading, drivers should watch out for children, especially around school arrival and dismissal times. Exercise care if you back out of a driveway or are driving through a school zone or near a bus stop.
Tips if You Are Walking to School
- Always use sidewalks where they are available and cross the road at crosswalks. Look both ways
- Never run, play or push and shove others around traffic
- Focus on the route to school. Don’t be distracted by electronic devices
- If there are no sidewalks, walk in single file toward oncoming traffic
- Wear bright clothing and reflective strips if you walk to and from school in the dark
Tips Around the School Bus
- Arrive early, ideally at least five minutes before the school bus is scheduled to be at the stop
- Stand six feet (or three giant steps) back from the school bus
- Make sure young children are supervised
- Never walk behind the school bus
- If you drop something in front of the school bus, inform the driver before you pick it up
School Safety Tips for Parents
Always discuss school bus safety with your children. Make sure they have an agreed route to get to school and don’t deviate from it. Find out if your child’s school has a safe routes to school program that maps out less hazardous ways to school. You should ensure your children wear bright or reflective clothing on dark mornings and evening.
Talk to an Injury Lawyer About School Bus Accidents
Many children are hurt every year by careless drivers or negligent school bus drivers. At the Smith Law Center, we will ensure the driver who harmed your child is held responsible. We may have to file a lawsuit against a school authority over the behavior of a bus driver. Please contact us today at (757) 244-7000.