Child enters school bus at bus stop.

It’s hard to believe that another school year is already starting in Hillsborough and Polk County. Many of us have been enjoying emptier roads on our commute as traffic dropped during lockdowns. But as school opens again, more families will be on the road to and from school. It’s very important that all of us remember what it takes for safe driving in school zones and bus stops. We’ve also included below some things your child needs to know to be careful when riding the bus. Let’s read on!

Stay Alert around School Zones

Expect to see more of those big, yellow school buses around as you drive in the mornings. And expect to drive more carefully around them, too. Remember who’s inside those buses: our children. We need to do all we can to keep them safe.

The best way to do this is just to stay alert. Stay off your phone while driving, but especially in school zones. If you don’t, you could get a fine and 3 points on your license. Don’t put yourself and others at risk.

Pay attention to signs for school zones and follow them. Slow down to the required speed limit when the school zone lights flash in the mornings and afternoons. Even if it isn’t pick-up and drop-off time, slow down and be careful around schools. Vehicles entering and exiting schools may still have kids inside.

Drive carefully in your neighborhood too. Kids may be outside their homes waiting on the bus, or they may be walking to school. Keep an eye out for them to make sure they get there safe.

School Bus Stopping Rules

You also need to know how to drive around a school bus. Remain alert and watch for their signals. Yellow flashing lights mean that the bus is slowing down and preparing to let students on or off the bus. Red flashing lights mean that the bus has stopped, and students are entering or exiting. The bus driver will also extend a stop-arm. Wait until the bus turns off the red lights and retracts the stop-arm before you continue driving.

NEVER pass a school bus that has stopped to load or unload children. You risk striking a child with your car as they cross the street. You may have to pay a fine, or get your license suspended. These penalties will double in 2021.

When Can You Pass a School Bus?

If you are behind or driving toward the bus on a two-lane road, you must stop. If you are driving the opposite direction on a road with a paved median, you also have to stop.  You can only drive past a stopped bus if you are on a divided highway traveling the other direction. Still, you should exercise caution. Be on the lookout for students crossing the road and stop for them.

Safety Tips for Kids on the Bus

When your child is waiting for the bus, make sure that they are several feet away from the street. They should not play at the bus stop but instead stay aware of their surroundings. Tell them not to talk to any strangers that approach them at the bus stop. It’s something we don’t even want to imagine, but it’s best that our kids stay prepared for that situation.

Once they board the bus, students should go straight to their seat and sit down. Make sure they know not to put anything out the window (including their hands and arms). They need to stay quiet during the bus ride so they don’t distract the bus driver. This is especially important around railroad crossings.

When exiting the bus, kids should always walk in front of the bus, keeping a clear distance. Tell your child to wait for the bus driver to tell them it’s safe to cross. They should try to get out of the road as quickly and safely as they can. Teach them to look both ways before crossing, too. They can never be too careful!

We know this summer has been full of uncertainty, and that much of that may carry into this school year. But at least we can be sure of how to stay safe on the roads. Be aware and be extra careful—even if you don’t drive a school bus, children’s lives are in your hands.

If you are injured in a car accident this school year, contact us at Brooks Law Group as soon as possible. We would love to help you and your family get back on track.

Finally, the Brooks Law Group Fall 2020 Scholarship is now open for submissions. If your child is a senior in high school or current college student planning on attending college next year, they can apply today!

Good luck to all of our parents and students this school year!

Steve was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. As was the practice for new doctors his father worked day and night during his medical residency at Charity Hospital there. Steve comes from a long line of doctors. His father, his grandfather, his great grandfather, even two uncles were all specialists and/or surgeons in their chosen medical specialties, including internal medicine specialist, obstetrics / gynecology, neurosurgery and general practice / surgery. His great-great grandfather was the Surgeon General of Ohio during the Civil War.