School Bus Traffic Laws: Do you Know Them?
It's a bittersweet experience for most parents to watch their children head off to school. While it's exciting to see one's offspring going out into the world and learning, the thought that their child is out on their own stresses out many parents. Since about 50 million children and teens attend public schools every year, it's obvious that an abundance of parents have these overwhelming feelings. In many instances, children are sent off on school buses, but due to the potential dangers of these vehicles, it's imperative for parents to fully understand school bus traffic laws.
Common School Bus Laws
In reality, school bus drivers must follow the majority of the same laws that any other driver follows. However, most states have designated speed limits that are set in place. In GA for example, when a school bus is on a route (loading and unloading taking place), the maximum speed limit at anytime is 40 MPH but when on a recreational run (not loading and unloading) they can go the posted legal speed limit, but never to exceed 55 MPH.
Another obvious difference, is that most areas don't require school buses to have seat belts for the children, only the driver. In place of these safety devices, however, tall soft seats are usually installed so that children are less likely to sustain serious injuries if a collision does occur. The big difference in traffic laws, though, rests with other drivers.
School buses carry the most precious cargo that most parents will ever have: children. This is why all vehicles are required to stop whenever a bus has stopped and is loading or unloading children. It is illegal for a motorist to pass when the lights are flashing, and if they do so and are caught, they can be charged with some very hefty fines.
These stop laws, however, can vary by locality and situation. In some areas, for example, a car coming from the opposite direction on a four-lane highway may be required to stop when they are unloading; this requirement may be void, however, if there is a median separating the road.
Fortunately for children, it's usually the driver of smaller vehicles who are injured after colliding with a school bus. This doesn't mean, however, that children aren't sometimes injured. About 5,500 children are injured in America each year, and sadly, about 19 children are killed in these accidents throughout the country yearly.
For a child, the majority of the risk is getting on or off the bus at designated stops, not when riding on it. The Danger Zone outside a school bus is anywhere around it within 10 feet. It is vitally important for students to exit and move away from it within the driver's site as quickly and cautiously as possible, following all of the driver's instructions, especially when crossing the roadway. Drivers are trained annually on these precautions and can inform the students with specific instructions on how to accomplish this in a safe and efficient manner.
Due to traffic records in each state, it's easy to stay abreast of just how safe each state is when it comes to school bus traffic safety. In Michigan, for instance, less than five percent of crashes involving school buses resulted in injuries to those on the bus. These numbers aren't uncommon in any state. Parents always take notice, however, when unexpected crashes prove especially tragic. Because of this potential, every parent should know where fault is placed in these situations. Consulting with a legal professional who is experienced with injury cases involving such accidents, such as the Stroble Law Firm, is important when faced with injuries or tragic losses.
Where is Fault Placed?
When it comes to accidents, where fault lies depends greatly upon the specific circumstances of the accident. About 13 of the aforementioned 19 child fatalities experienced each year involve children who aren't actually on the bus. In these cases, any negligent action on the part of the bus driver could put the driver and the school system at fault.
In instances where other drivers act in a negligent way, such as passing a stopped school bus during the loading and unloading process, can be held liable for any injuries or tragic losses that a child sustains. The most important thing when considering these factors, however, is to retain an attorney. School bus traffic laws can vary by state, and a local attorney will know the precise liability laws in an area. Additionally, these legal professionals are adept at proving liability on a specific party.
With so many precious children going to school every day, and riding a bus, it is very important for all motorists to take caution when approaching a stopped school bus. It is also just as vitally important for a bus driver to pay attention and utilize what they have been trained when stopped. Doing so, can protect and saves lives of what is most important, children.
As a mother and school bus driver, Lisa Coleman understands the importance of adhering to all school bus laws, as a motorist and bus driver to keep our little ones safe. W. Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwworks/3957311986/
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Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwworks/3957311986/