According to the National Safety Council, 25 million students nationwide take the school bus on a daily basis. Approximately 26 students are killed and 9,000 injured each year in incidents involving school buses. Keeping alert, knowing the traffic laws, and watching out for children getting on or off school buses is key to keeping our kids safe.
Don't know the traffic laws for school buses? Below is information for motorists and students to help ensure our children's safety. For more information on Ohio traffic laws, view the Digest of Motor Vehicle Laws
available through the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles
The Consequences of Not Following School Bus Safety
Passing a stopped school bus comes with steep fines. In both North Royalton and Broadview Heights, the fine is $1000.
SCHOOL BUS SAFETY TIPS FOR MOTORISTS
Never pass a school bus with flashing lights
In the state of Ohio, you must stop when driving from either direction (does not apply to multiple-lane or divided highways) until the children are safely off the street and the school bus lights stop flashing. The yellow flashing lights signal you to slow down and prepare to make a complete stop. When the red light flashes, your vehicle must be fully stopped, even if the "stop sign" arm is not extended on the side of the bus.
You must stop in both directions on a two-lane road
By law, motorists must stop in both directions for a school bus on a two-lane, or two-lane-with-turning-lane road. According to Ohio traffic laws, motorists can receive up to a $500 fine and possible suspended license for up to a year for failure to stop.
Be aware of children entering or exiting the bus
The majority of school-bus-related accidents occur when children are crossing the street. It is important to be aware of the flashing lights and children crossing the street.
Maintain a safe distance from the school bus
School buses make frequent stops, including at all railroad crossings. Maintain a 2-3 second distance from the bus at all times, even before the bus puts on its yellow lights. Be mindful that school buses drive at a slower speed than regular traffic. Do not pass a school bus unless the driver signals you to do so. Remember, you may be in the blind spot of the school bus! Also, you must stop no less than 10 feet behind the bus, so maintain your distance.
Put away your cell phone
Don't drive distracted. The majority of vehicle crashes are due to distracted drivers. No text or call is worth injury or loss of life.
What Do the Red/Yellow Lights Mean?Yellow/Amber Flashing Lights
- The bus is preparing to stop and pick up or discharge students. Normally turned on approximately 300 feet before bus stops. Motorists should prepare to stop as soon as the bus comes to a complete stop and/or the red flashing lights come on.Red Flashing Lights
- Motorists must stop. Students are exiting or boarding the bus. Stop 10 feet from the front or rear of a school bus and do not proceed until the bus resumes motion. Never pass a school bus that has red flashing lights on, even if the "stop sign" arm is not extended.Stop Sign
- Motorists must stop. Students are exiting or boarding the bus. Stop 10 feet from the front or rear of a school bus and do not proceed until the bus resumes motion. Never pass a school bus with the red stop sign is displayed or the red lights are flashing.
Do I Need to Stop on a Four-Lane Road?
Motorists do not need to stop when going in the opposite direction of the school bus if there are four or more lanes of traffic. The red cars in the diagrams below must stop on a four-lane road; the green vehicles traveling in the opposite direction of the bus do not have to stop. With two lanes or two lanes and a turning lane, you must stop in each direction.
Tips for Students for a Safe Ride
School buses are the safest way for students to travel, but children also need to do their part to stay alert and aware of their surroundings to prevent injury. More school-age pedestrians have been killed during the hour before and after school than any other time of day, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
. Although drivers are required by law to stop for a school bus when it's loading or unloading passengers, they often don't. Children should not rely on them to do so. The National Safety Council
urges parents to teach their children the following safety rules for getting on and off the bus, and for exercising good behavior while riding.
Getting on the Bus
- When waiting for the bus, stay away from traffic and avoid roughhousing or other behavior that can lead to carelessness.
- Do not stray onto the street, alleys or private property.
- Line up away from the street or road as the bus approaches.
- Wait until the bus has stopped and the door opens before approaching the bus.
- Use the handrail when boarding.
Behavior on the Bus
- If seat belts are available on the bus, buckle up.
- Don't speak loudly or make loud noises that could distract the driver.
- Stay in your seat.
- Don't put your head, arms or hands out the window.
- Keep aisles clear of books and bags.
- Get your belongings together before reaching your stop.
- Wait for the bus to stop completely before getting up from your seat.
Getting Off the Bus
- Use the handrail when exiting.
- If you have to cross in front of the bus, first walk at least 10 feet ahead until you can see the driver.
- Make sure the driver can see you.
- Wait for a signal from the driver before crossing.
- When the driver signals, look left, right, then left again. Walk across the road and keep an eye out for sudden traffic changes.
- If your vision is blocked, move to an area where you can see other drivers and they can see you.
- Do not cross the center line of the road until the driver signals it is safe.
- Stay away from the rear wheels of the bus at all times.