Thousands are injured in school bus-related accidents each year. Annually, nearly 100 fatalities result from school bus accidents. Parents do their best to protect children on their way to and from school, but drivers should also be extra cautious while driving through school zones or near school buses.
While children may not be concerned with safety-related traffic procedures, drivers should recognize their vulnerabilities to traffic hazards. All nearby drivers should be aware that a child may dart out into the road or exit the bus with disregard for traffic dangers. In either case, drivers should be attentive to the location of the bus and the safety of its passengers.
What Should I Do When a School Bus Stops?
When a school bus stops, all drivers should take notice. Some drivers have a specific duty to stop. Other drivers, if they are on the opposite side of a divided highway, may proceed with caution. All motorists should be on the lookout for children crossing the road. Flashing lights and an extended driver-side stop sign should alert drivers that the bus will be coming to a stop. Unfortunately, too many drivers ignore these signals, putting children at extreme risk.
What are the Laws in Pennsylvania?
If a school bus is stopped in Pennsylvania, a vehicle’s road position will determine the required action. If a driver is on the opposite side of a divided highway, they should take notice of their surroundings. The driver should be mindful of the possible appearance of children and proceed with caution. The speed limit in school zones is 15 miles per hour.
On an undivided road, a stopped school bus requires drivers to stop. Drivers must stop no less than 10 feet from the stopped school bus. If a car is on the opposite side of an undivided, two-way road, they must stop and allow the bus to load or unload passengers. They must remain stopped until the bus moves. If a driver is behind the bus on the same side of the road or in an adjoining lane going in the same direction, they must stop and wait for the bus to resume driving.
There are stiff penalties for violating school bus laws in Pennsylvania. Drivers are subject to a $250 fine, a five-point penalty on their driver’s record, and a 60-day license suspension. Insurance premiums are also likely to be affected.
How Should Parents Review Driving Safety Rules with Teens?
Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers. Parents must be proactive when sending their child to school and putting them behind the wheel. Teenagers feel an immeasurable sense of freedom when they drive to school, but that freedom must be tempered with wisdom. Teenagers are new and inexperienced. They do not have the knowledge or experience to help them deal with heavy traffic, speeding drivers, school buses, bike riders, and walkers. A new driver also does not know how to communicate with people in the car and drive safely at the same time.
The New Driver Deal is a unique document that outlines how teens should drive and what parents can do to help them. The family should sit down to read, understand, and sign this document. This is a simple way for the family to focus on safety. Parents can also recreate the ride to school by driving their children along the appropriate route. If their teenager is picking up friends, those houses should be added to the route.
Adults need to understand that their driving style will influence that of their children. Confused teens often do not know how to manage chaotic intersections. It helps to witness how parents communicate with the police officer directing traffic, pedestrians crossing the street, and other drivers on the road. An aggressive parent who honks their horn and exhibits repeated cases of road rage is not likely to produce a calm driver.
Teen drivers also need practice. Parents should let their teens drive as much as possible. A teenager can drive on short road trips with the family, and they will learn how to remain poised and alert behind the wheel, especially around school buses and those who are walking to school.
How Should Parents Prepare Their Children for School?
Young children who walk or bike to school need to learn how to deal with traffic, buses, and crossing the street. Children can be trusted to walk or bike to school only after parents have walked them to school several times. Parents can model appropriate behavior by:
- Stopping at all crosswalks
- Looking both ways
- Making eye contact with drivers
- Making eye contact with or speaking to crossing guards to ensure a safe entry to the school property
When parents allow their children to walk or ride to school, they should model appropriate behavior. This is a good steppingstone for parents who will one day let their children drive to school.
Are There Steps Schools Should Take to Protect Students?
School systems must prepare to bring students back to school appropriately. If the school system is open during the COVID-19 pandemic, the school should not pass on the responsibility for the child’s safety to the parents. Yes, parents should send their children to school with appropriate face masks and teach them to wash their hands, but the school must be prepared to protect every child.
The school should institute social distancing in each room, cross out seats in the cafeteria, and even stagger schedules to prevent the halls from congestion. A best-case scenario involves teachers moving between classrooms so that children do not fill the hallways. Schools can complete temperature checks and a school nurse should be prepared to assist if a child shows symptom of COVID-19. Additionally, the school should work diligently to clean and disinfect surfaces. Schools should also provide accommodations for students who have a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.
If the child has an Individual Education Program designed to offer special services, parents should request a meeting with teachers, counselors, and administrators to review that plan. A child who receives one-on-one instruction will not always receive the same services when school reopens. A child may need to receive services virtually if they are not in the building. Even if the child is in the building, services may need to change to protect teachers, staff, and other students. Students should also:
- Receive the proper immunizations before school starts
- Use both backpack straps to prevent back and neck pain
- Voice concerns to teachers and parents
- Be prepared to wear their masks all day
Students, teachers, counselors, and administrators must work together to help students remain safe at school.
When Should an Affected Party Contact a Lawyer?
Accidents involving school buses or injuries suffered at school are often serious, so it is important to seek compensation for recovery. When considering a personal injury case, a knowledgeable lawyer can help address any questions or concerns.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Help Victims Injured by Negligent Parties
If you or your child were hurt in an accident due to another’s negligence, contact one of our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. We can help you obtain compensation from the responsible party. Complete our online form or call us at 215-569-8488 for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.