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Back to School Bus Safety Tips for Motorists

Car accidents are commonplace in today’s world. But it’s hard not to become emotionally invested when a school bus accident tragedy occurs, even if that happens across the country. Public schools aren’t required to provide transportation, but most do. School buses provide 10 billion rides throughout the school year overall for everything from morning transport to athletics and field trips. And 55% of students nationwide rely on a lift just to get back and forth to school each day. Buses carry and help protect the most precious cargo, so it’s essential to respect the process. Fortunately, there are some simple but effective bus safety tips for motorists.

Provide Enough Distance if Following Behind a Bus

It’s acceptable in most situations to give a car’s length or two between following another passenger vehicle on the road. However, school buses are different. Sudden stops, slow, unloads, and weather concerns can require extra distance on your end. So keep at least three car lengths or 10-feet minimum between the buses’ back bumper and your front bumper. Opt for 20-feet whenever possible.

Stay Alert and Watch for Flashing Lights

Speeding up when a traffic light turns yellow is a habitual practice for many drivers. But it’s a dangerous, illegal, and potentially fatal practice when it comes to a school bus. If you see a school bus slow down and release yellow flashing lights, that’s signaling that it’s about to stop. At no point should you ever attempt to pass the bus. Instead, keep at least a 20-foot distance and wait for the bus to resume. But start off slowly as little ones or even older passengers who know better may be waiting to dart out into the street.

Never Try to Pass a School Bus in an Intersection

Know your local laws to avoid being fined up to $500 before court costs and potentially harming an innocent passenger and/or needing a Michigan bus accident attorney. It’s illegal in Michigan to pass a stopped school bus at any time, even in an intersection without light-controlled traffic. Far too many unnecessary accidents occur due to human error, and the consequences are magnified and multiplied when kids are involved. The flashing stop indicator should be noticeable on a stopped school bus. But even if it’s not, the fact that it’s not moving should be enough warning. Stop a safe distance behind and always wait for the bus to either move or the driver to indicate it’s safe to proceed.

Continuously Scan for Kids, Especially Around School Zones

Regardless of whether the stop or slow lights are flashing at any point, be vigilant and continuously scan for pedestrians around school buses. This is especially important in residential neighborhoods and school zones. Kids are excitable and don’t always use common sense, especially when in groups. Playing behind or between parked cars, darting out into the street, forgetting to use crosswalks, and dropping or running to retrieve spilled school supplies are all par for the course. Be proactive, remember they’re kids, go slowly, and always be ready to stop on a dime around any school bus or loading/unloading zone. And if you are involved in an accident with a bus, contact a Michigan personal injury attorney right away.

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