MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - Back to school means back to sharing the roads with school buses. And, it’s important we are all back on board with the safety precautions when it comes to driving near these big yellow buses.
When you are driving behind allow for more distance than you typically would when driving behind a car. This gives you more time to stop once the bus does with their red or yellow lights flashing and the stop arm extended.
It is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped while loading and unloading students, in which you should never pass a bus from behind or any other direction on an undivided road.
The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children so be sure to stop far enough back to allow space when kids are leaving or entering the bus. And, always be alert–children may ignore hazards and cross the road before being signaled to do so.
Meridian Township Police Captain, Greg Frenger said if you are not sure whether or not to stop, stopping is the safest thing to do.
“We certainly encourage people to use an abundance of caution when driving near or passing any bus,” he said. “It’s one thing to consider your personal driving habits and what other pedestrians and drivers should do but think about persons with disabilities or reckless child, the outcome can be is horrific. There are number of children I worry about because of their special needs and may not be safe to get to and from the bus stop, children aren’t always going to use the best judgement, so drivers need to be cautious.”
Drivers should not just be aware of buses, but also students who are using the crosswalks or even biking to school.
According to research done by the National Safety Council most children ages 4 to 7 years old lose their lives in a bus-related incidents while walking. They are hit by the bus or a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. This is why it is important to not block the crosswalk when stopped forcing pedestrians to move around you and put them in a dangerous path of moving traffic.
Often crossing guards and school patrol officers are near crosswalks directing traffic, but in some neighborhoods that is not always the case.
“As the winter months come on and it gets darker out, we like to think kids are wearing reflective and bright clothes but we can’t always count on that,” Frenger said. “Drivers need to use caution everywhere including neighborhoods.”
Despite who has the right of way, drivers should always be cautious of pedestrians including bicyclist that are also on the move to get to and from school.
When passing a bicyclist leave three feet between your car and the biker while proceeding in the same direction slowly. It is important to watch for bikers turning in front of you, often, children will not look or signal their turns.