Defensive Driving

Back to School: Children, Buses & You

School buses

“Children are our future.”

I wonder who first said such a seemingly obvious quote, and who of those listening seemed previously unaware of this fact. Perhaps I take for granted the basic level of biological understanding we receive, but the fact remains: the health and well-being of children, whether our own or not, is a paramount concern. While it’s not something we should need to be reminded of often, it most certainly never hurts. Now, when the countrywide-chaos of school starting arrives and fleets of yellow 36-footers descend upon the streets, could be an especially poignant time to be reminded of how to stay safe when it comes to school buses.

Aside from the unavoidable growing pains the inside of an elementary, middle, or high school bus can bring, it’s actually the safest way to commute to and from school. While dealing with a bully on the bus is for a different blog, the odds of being in a fatal traffic accident on a bus is significantly less when compared to other forms of transport (walking, by car, by bicycle, etc.). In fact, the odds of being in a fatal accident when a teenager driver are 58-times worse than when compared to a bus.

Statistics aside, it is advisable to give your kids some basic rules to abide by when taking the school bus. Their behavior is as important as any other variable in the overall safety of the situation. Encourage them to do the following:

*When waiting for the bus you should stay out of the street.

*At the bus stop, line up at least 10 feet back from the curb.

*Wait until the bus stops completely and the driver has said it is safe to board.

*If you have to cross the street to board the bus, wait until the driver has the red lights flashing and the STOP sign out. Always look both ways.

Drivers have their own set of rules when it comes to school buses and in Texas some rules have changed with the latest legislation. The basics that have not changed are these:

*If you approach a school bus from either direction and it is showing alternating flashing red lights you must not pass until:

1) The bus has resumed motion, or

2) The driver signals you to proceed, or

3) The lights are no longer flashing.

Failure to do this will result in a fine of $500 to $1250.

Many Texas cities are equipping school buses with cameras to record infractions.

Bus Camera

In Texas there are two new laws in effect: One banning teen drivers from using cell phones and text messaging devices; the other prohibiting drivers from using handheld cell phones in school crossing zones. It does not apply to vehicles that are stopped, or drivers using a hands free device.

Educating our children includes teaching them how to be safe in and around a school bus. Keeping them safe includes all of us following the rules of the road. For more information on this and all other driving topics, log into

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