School bus drivers have made the yellow school bus the largest and safest transportation system in the nation. Riding the school bus is a great way to get children to and from school. However, there are still risk factors associated with riding the bus that parents, children, and motorists need to be aware of:
- Despite the fact that there are stop arm laws in all 50 states, it’s estimated that over 10 million drivers illegally pass school buses every year. This poses a serious risk to children who may not be aware of approaching traffic obscured by the big yellow bus. It’s not clear why so many drivers violate stop arm laws when children’s lives are at stake, but it remains a daily threat to children. There simply is no “safe” way legally to pass the school bus. If the bus is stopping, children are present.
- To keep children safer, motorists need to follow the laws in their state. It’s illegal to pass a school bus within the roadway as it drops off or picks up passengers—regardless of the direction of approach. When sharing the road with a school bus, motorists should drive at a slower pace and keep a safe distance. This is the only way to be prepared to stop when those flashing red and yellow lights go on. States have different requirements on how close a vehicle can come to a school bus as it stops to pick up passengers, but that distance may be as much as 25 feet.
- Under no circumstance should a motorist ever be within 10 feet of a school bus.
The Love the Bus program, launched in 2007 and coordinated by the American School Bus Council, is not only a way to raise awareness and appreciation for the hundreds of thousands of school bus drivers nationwide, but it also provides an opportunity for parents and children to learn more about the safety of school bus transportation. Nationwide, school buses represent 25 percent of the miles traveled by students, but they account for fewer than 4 percent of the injuries that occur during students’ commutes to and from school each day.
Parents, teachers and children are encouraged to visit the American School Bus Council's website this month to share stories about their favorite bus drivers and make interactive valentines to email or print and give to their bus driver. Additional information on the American School Bus Council is available online.