Back-to-School Safety Tips for Motorists
Sharing the road safely with school buses
School buses are one of the safest forms of transportation on the road today. In fact,
according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, riding a bus to school is 13
times safer than riding in a passenger vehicle and 10 times safer than walking to school. The
reality of school bus safety is that more children are hurt outside the bus than inside as
passengers. Most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related crashes are pedestrians,
four to seven years old, who are hit by the bus or by motorists illegally passing a stopped
school bus. For this reason, it is necessary to know the proper laws and procedures for
sharing the road safely with school buses:
All 50 states have a law making it illegal
to pass a school bus that is stopped to
load or unload children.
School buses use yellow flashing lights
to alert motorists that they are preparing
to stop to load or unload children. Red
flashing lights and an extended stop sign
arm signals to motorists that the bus is
stopped and children are getting on or off
All 50 states require that traffic in both
directions stop on undivided roadways
when students are entering or exiting a
While state laws vary on what is required
on a divided roadway, in all cases, traffic
behind the school bus (traveling in the
same direction) must stop.
The area 10 feet around a school bus is
where children are in the most danger of
being hit. Stop your car far enough from
the bus to allow children the necessary
space to safely enter and exit the bus.
Be alert. Children are unpredictable.
Children walking to or from their bus are
usually very comfortable with their
surroundings. This makes them more
likely to take risks, ignore hazards or fail
to look both ways when crossing the
Never pass a school bus on the right. It
is illegal and could have tragic
Sharing the road safely with child pedestrians
All drivers need to recognize the special safety needs of pedestrians, especially those that
are children. Young, elderly, disabled and intoxicated pedestrians are the most frequent
victims in auto-pedestrian collisions. Generally, pedestrians have the right-of-way at all
intersections; however, regardless of the rules of the road or right-of-way, you as a driver are
obligated to exercise great care and extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians.
Drivers should not block the crosswalk
when stopped at a red light or waiting to
make a turn. Do not stop with a portion
of your vehicle over the crosswalk.
Blocking the crosswalk forces
pedestrians to go around your vehicle
and puts them in a dangerous situation.
In a school zone when a warning flasher
or flashers are blinking, you must stop to
yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian
crossing the roadway within a marked
crosswalk or at an intersection with no
Always stop when directed to do so by a
school patrol sign, school patrol officer or
designated crossing guard.
Children are the least predictable
pedestrians and the most difficult to see.
Take extra care to look out for children
not only in school zones, but also in
residential areas, playgrounds and
Don’t honk your horn, rev your engine or
do anything to rush or scare a pedestrian
in front of your car, even if you have the
Sharing the road safely with child bicyclists
On most roadways, bicyclists have the same rights and
responsibilities as other roadway users and often share the
same lane, but bicycles can be hard to see. The riders are
exposed and easily injured in a collision. Oncoming bicycle
traffic is often overlooked and its speed misjudged. Children
riding bicycles create special problems for drivers because they
are not capable of proper judgment in determining traffic
When passing a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction, do
so slowly and leave at least a distance between you and the
bicycle of no less than 3 feet. Maintain this clearance until
you have safely passed the bicycle.
The most common causes of collisions are drivers turning left
in front of an oncoming bicycle or turning right, across the
path of the bicycle.
When your vehicle is turning left and there is a bicyclist
entering the intersection from the opposite direction, you
should wait for the bicyclist to pass before making the turn.
If your vehicle is turning right and a bicyclist is approaching
on the right, let the bicyclist go through the intersection first
before making a right turn. Remember to always use your
Watch for bicycle riders turning in front of you without looking
or signaling, especially if the rider is a child.
Take extra precautions in school zones and neighborhood
areas where children and teenagers might be riding.
Watch out for bikes coming out of driveways or from behind
parked cars or other obstructions.
Check side mirrors for bicyclists before opening the door.
Some communities may fine drivers for collisions caused by
opening a vehicle door in the path of a bicyclist.