Back to School Pedestrian and Bus Stop Tips for Parents and Kids
It is that time of year again, a time when the kids are headed back to school. This is also when adults need to be educated on bus stop safety for both drivers and pedestrians.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), nearly 70 percent of deaths in school bus-related crashes from 2011 to 2020 were people in vehicles outside the school bus, 16 percent were pedestrians, and about 5 percent were school bus passengers.
When Drivers Should Stop for School Buses
While school buses are among the most regulated vehicles on the nation’s roads to prevent crashes and injuries, motorists still fail to abide by the stop-arm laws in place in each state, such as Nevada. It only hinders children’s safety.
Here are a few rules to remember to protect them:
Yellow Flashing Lights on a School Bus
This means drivers need to slow down. Yellow flashing lights signal that the bus is also slowing down and getting ready to stop. It also means there are students, maybe with their parents nearby, waiting on the side of the road to be picked up in the mornings or preparing to get off the bus in the afternoons.
Red Flashing Lights on a School Bus
As with any red traffic light, this means stop, so motorists should do so at least 20 feet behind the bus or in front of the bus if they are facing the bus in oncoming traffic. They should then remain stopped until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is up, and the bus starts moving.
No Flashing Lights on a School Bus
Even if there are no red or yellow flashing lights on a school bus, drivers should be aware and watch out for children when they back out of the driveway, through a neighborhood, and in school zones on school days in the mornings for arrival and afternoons for dismissal.
What is the Penalty for Failing to Stop for a School Bus?
Illegally passing a school bus is a misdemeanor and punishable by fines or possible license suspension. Specific punishments for a first-time offense are:
- A $305 fine
- Four demerit points on a Nevada driver’s license
Only when a driver is traveling in the opposite direction of the school bus and the road has a physical barrier separating traffic, like a median or raised curb, can they legally pass a stopped school bus with flashing red lights.
Typical defense strategies that attorneys may take to reduce the charges for a driver who fails to stop for a school bus with flashing red lights include:
- There was an emergency the driver was on his/her way to.
- The school bus was not displaying a flashing red stop sign.
- The driver was falsely accused.
Bus Stop Safety: What Children Should Know
Parents should make sure their kids understand bus safety and ensure that they are standing at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is supposed to arrive to avoid missteps in any safety measures.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests that children follow the SAFE acronym as a reminder, which is to:
- Stay five steps away from the curb when waiting at a bus stop.
- Always wait where they are standing away from the curb until the bus comes to a complete stop.
- Face forward after taking a seat on the bus.
- Exit the bus, when on the way home, only after it comes to a complete stop and be sure to look left, right, then left again for any cars before crossing the street.
For parents with students who walk to school, these young pedestrians should follow these safety tips while en route:
- They should walk on the sidewalk if possible; if there is no sidewalk, pedestrians should walk on the side of the street facing traffic.
- They need to use marked crosswalks to cross the street whenever possible, looking left, right, then left again for nearby vehicles or bicycles.
- They should not push or play around with other fellow pedestrians when walking around traffic and busy streets.
- However, there is safety in numbers, so it is a good idea for children to walk in groups to school.
- They should not be looking down at their phones, but paying attention to their surroundings.
Drivers also need to keep an eye out for back-to-school pedestrians walking along the road in the mornings and afternoons. For instance:
- They should not talk or text on their phone while driving. This is not only dangerous, but it is against the law in Nevada.
- Instead, they should be hyper-aware of their surroundings, checking crosswalks and obeying school speed zones and traffic signs, and stopping for any crossing guards or safety officers.
- They should not block a crosswalk, make a U-turn, or pass another vehicle in an active school zone. Again, it is against the law in Nevada.
Safety Tips for Other Forms of Back-to-School Transportation
The Nevada Department of Transportation advises everyone in the state to follow precautions when returning to school, regardless of the type of transportation they are taking to get to school, whether by bus, car, scooter, bicycle, or foot.
For families with a student riding a bicycle to school, here are ways to keep their ride to school safe:
- Make sure the bicyclist is wearing a helmet that fits correctly, with the chin strap securely fastened.
- The bike rider should be wearing bright clothing to increase visibility, clothes that are not loose or have anything that could get caught up in the bike chain, and sneakers (not flip-flops).
- Bike brakes should be checked and air is pumped in the tires.
- When riding, they ride in a straight line (not weaving in and out of traffic), stay in a bike lane or sidewalk when possible, and they travel in the same direction as traffic.
- Electronics or ear buds should not be used to avoid any distractions