School supplies now line the aisles of your local stores and the open house nights are on the calendar – just days away! Believe it or not, the school bells will soon be ringing and Facebook will be filled with pictures of the first day of school, along with cheers (or laments) by parents and teachers. This means that school buses will be on the roads with precious cargo. There are a few things that we, as drivers, need to be careful to remember.
Give yourself time. Whether or not you have school-aged children, buses could impact your commute. Much of the time, local bus routes can easily be found in the newspaper or on school websites; just remember that buses often run late the first few days of school. With a little planning, you may be able to avoid being caught behind a school bus and being late for work.
Be alert. The advice to avoid distracted driving seems to find its way into many blogs! That’s because it increases your safety in a number of situations. With kids on the road, whether walking, biking, or on a bus, you certainly want to do everything you can to be safe.
Follow the rules. Just like the kids in school, you have rules to follow. Yours, however, have consequences of life and death. Slow down for yellow lights and prepare to stop. When the bus flashes its red lights or displays the stop sign, you stop! This applies if you are meeting the bus on the road or following it. In some instances it applies when meeting a bus on a divided road as well, though often opposite direction traffic is not required to stop in that situation. Even if you aren’t legally required to stop, be prepared to do so, in case a child runs the wrong way into the street or another driver breaks abruptly. Never pass a bus on the right.
Respect the driver. Few jobs could be more difficult than driving an 11-14 ton vehicle with more than 50 children, maintaining their safety and managing their behavior. Obeying the laws, using your signals, and staying a safe distance behind the bus make their day a little bit easier, and the children a little bit safer.
Go above and beyond. Sometimes the laws are unclear or nonexistent, such as what to do at a bus stop before the bus comes or as it is approaching. Use common sense and extreme caution. Slow down when nearing a bus stop with children present, remember that kids are unpredictable and much shorter than parked vehicles; one could dart out at any time. Do not try to beat the bus as it approaches. This is the time that children are rushing to get their things together and get ready to board the bus, oblivious to their surroundings. Keep an eye out for those who may be late and running alongside your car to get there before the door closes.
It’s going to be a great school year in the St. Louis area! Let’s be ready to make it a safe one.