More wheels are beginning to turn in students’ minds and on the roadways. As another school year is about to get underway, congestion will increase on the roadways and motorists will need to take extra precautions. School buses will be a common site on the roads, each morning and afternoon. We no longer live in the days of Forest Gump, where busses still picked up our kids in front of our houses on lightly traveled dirt roads. You may not have school-aged children, but you still must take the same precautions as those who send their kids to school; we must all be alert and aware of school zones, speed, school buses and, of course, children.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, illegal passing is a huge concern as bus drivers transport kids to and from school. Many drivers ignore the “stop arm” on buses and speed past a stopped bus. When automobile drivers approach a stopped or slowing school bus, drivers should be on the lookout for flashing yellow or red lights and, especially, for children running or walking in or near the roadway. In general, drivers must watch for students who may be walking to school on or near any of our roads. Pedestrians have the right-of-way; motorists must stop at crosswalks with pedestrians and allow them to completely cross both lanes. Watch also for volunteer parents, crossing guards, dressed with reflective safety vests and carrying portable stop signs; these thoughtful and caring volunteers often assist your young children in crossing busy intersections.
To reduce automobile accidents, pedestrian accidents and/or bus/automobile accidents and to keep all of our kids safe as they return to school:
· Allow extra time to reach your destination. Running late tends to lead to poor driving decisions that compromise safety. Consider modifying your route to avoid school zones and residential neighborhoods.
· Slow down. Excessive speed is the most common cause of accidents near school zones. Whether in a school zone or residential neighborhood, motorists should keep their speed low and be prepared to stop quickly for increased vehicle or pedestrian traffic.
· Obey stop signs, slow down at intersections and crosswalks, and watch for small children. Come to a complete stop. Small children are hard to see and it is equally difficult for them to see you because their peripheral vision is narrower than an adult’s. Children also have a hard time judging the speed and distance of a vehicle.
· Avoid double-parking. It hinders traffic, causes congestion, and creates risks for children crossing the street.
· Avoid U-turns. They are unsafe within school zones.
· Look between parked cars. Children can quickly dart out between parked cars or other objects. Pay close attention not only at intersections, but along any residential roadways where children could be present.
· Increase your following distance when behind school buses. Remember that buses take more time to stop, and are good visual barriers.
· Use extra caution during inclement weather. Reduced visibility can make it difficult for motorists to see children and children to see vehicles. It also can make it difficult to stop quickly.
Remember, in every State in our country, it is illegal to pass a school bus that has stopped to load/unload students. Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is preparing to stop to load/unload children. Motorists are required to slow down and prepare to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended “stop arm” indicates that the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop and not begin moving again until the red flashing lights are turned off, the stop arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins to move. Be extra cautious in this situation; why not wait an additional 5 seconds before moving?
Lawsuit Financial reminds all motorists to drive more responsibly, as the school year begins. Safety on our roadways is everyone’s responsibility. For more information on school bus safety, visit the U.S. Department of Transportation website.
Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed while personal injury litigation is pending. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.