Classic Collision is a well-known auto repair business with multiple locations in the southeastern United States.  Each month we write a blog focused on helping drivers across the nation prevent accidents in an effort to reduce the impact accidents have on the population.  This month we are focused on small pedestrians, otherwise known as children. There are two places where children are especially vulnerable to being in an accident – around a school and getting on or off a bus.  The Transportation Research Board estimates that there are approximately 25,000 accidents per year and 100 deaths in school zones each year. Stanford Children’s Health estimates that about 17,000 children are hurt around buses each year.  That’s about 42,000 kids per year that are involved in accident related injuries! Please read this article and raise your awareness of how to be part of the solution instead of the problem.

Children next to a car walking through pedestrian crossing to the school

First of all, kids’ tend to be distracted and not mindful at times which can cause them to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  To help remedy that problem, drivers need to be extra careful in school zones and around buses. Even if the speed limit posts a limit of 15-25 mph you need to go slow enough so you can take in the entire area and respond accordingly.  Never rush in a school zone!

Elementary school kids climbing on to a school bus

Secondly, you will know you are in a school zone if you see the warning signs and lights plus extra crosswalks.  They often will have crossing guards, traffic officers and/or policemen helping children cross the streets. Always yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk and anticipate that a child could easily run into the street to catch up with friends or run to their mom/dad waiting in a car.

Yellow crosswalk sign against white

Keep in mind that schools are used for many activities outside the regular school hours so just because the flashing light isn’t going it is still a very good idea to slow down, take in the whole scene and anticipate small children crossing the road.

Regarding buses, each state has its own unique laws and it is your responsibility to know and obey them. Oftentimes there are different rules regarding 2-lane roads and 4-lane roads.  And 4-lane roads differ depending on the type of median/turn lane they have. For example, in the state of Georgia, a new law, Senate Bill 25, was put into effect last year that says all traffic going both directions must stop for a bus:

  1. On a two-lane road (with or without a center turning lane)
  2. On a four-lane roadway without a median separation (even if there is a turning lane)
A young boy student walks to a school bus outside the elementary school

Once again, citing the example in Georgia, only when driving on a four-lane roadway with a grass median, unpaved area or physical barrier can oncoming traffic proceed in its lane.  If a school bus stops and you are unsure what to do, it is best to stop and not assume you can proceed. As the saying goes, it is better to be safe than sorry. Many states have very severe fines (double and triple the cost) for breaking laws in school zones and around buses.  It is safe to say that the experience could be very expensive and life changing in a less than positive way.  Keeping abreast of changes in your state’s laws and new schools being built in your area will help you drive safely.