Summer is winding down and Fall is upon us. With the kids in the San Diego area going back to school, this is a good time to focus on bus safety. Though rarer than other types of auto accidents, accidents with school buses can be some of the most severe. The shear size of the vehicle and the fact that they are usually transporting numerous children inside can be a recipe for disaster.
Though accidents cannot be completely prevented, it is important for us to do our part to ensure that our kids are kept safe on their way to and from school. Here are four actions we can take to avoid accidents with school buses:
- Drive Slowly when you Are Behind a Bus
Driving behind a school bus can be frustrating, especially if you are late for work or for an important appointment. Though we are sometimes in a hurry, it is important to remember that school buses must maintain a safe speed when they are bringing children to and from school. Whenever you are behind a bus, be patient and accept the fact that you will need to drive slowly for a while.
- Give the Bus Plenty of Room
Buses are large vehicles that frequently stop to pick up kids and let them off. Buses also must come to a complete stop at all railroad crossings. When you are driving behind a bus, avoid tailgating and be sure to give the vehicle plenty of space. A good rule of thumb is stay at least 10 feet behind the bus at all times.
- Be Ready to Stop when Driving Near a Bus
Remember that when the red lights are flashing and the school bus arm is extended, traffic going both ways must stop if it is an undivided road. If the road has a median divider, traffic going in the same direction (as the school bus) must stop. Drivers must remain stopped until the lights are no longer flashing and/or the school bus arm is no longer displayed. Failure to stop can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and points on your driving record. Whenever you are behind a bus or see one coming in the other direction, be prepared to stop when the red lights start flashing.
- Be Aware of Children in School Zones
According to the National Safety Council, approximately 20% of those killed in accidents with school buses are pedestrians and bicyclists. Most of these are children who are waiting for the bus or riding their bikes to school. Children are unpredictable, and you never know when they will dart out into the street while waiting for the bus or dash across the street to try to catch the bus on time. Drive slowly through school zones and be aware of kids walking and riding their bikes to school, as well as those waiting for the bus.
New California School Bus Safety Laws Take Effect Soon
In 2015, California passed the Paul Lee School Bus Safety Law, named after a 19-year-old non-verbal autistic student who died tragically after being left for hours in an overheated school bus with the windows shut. The driver failed to notice the student when the others were getting off the bus, even though he was tall enough to be seen over the top of the seat.
In response to this incident, the new law requires all old and new school buses to install child safety alarms that meet the standards set by the California Highway Patrol. Other vehicles that transport children will also be required to have safety alarms that meet CHP standards. The law also mandates that school bus drivers to receive child-check safety training on an annual basis when they renew their bus driver safety certificates.
The Paul Lee School Bus Safety Law was scheduled to go into effect for the 2018-2019 school year. However, the deadline was moved to the 2019-2020 school year to give school districts across the state more time to install CHP-approved child safety alarms. Hopefully, the implementation of this new law will enhance school bus safety and prevent more tragedies like what happened to Paul Lee.
What Happens if I Get into a School Bus Accident?
There are times when you follow all the rules and still end up in an accident with a school bus. This could be the result of negligence or carelessness on the part of the bus driver, vehicle handling problems or other equipment defects, poor road conditions, or other factors. If you or someone close to you was injured in a school bus accident that was not your fault, you may have a right to compensation. To understand your rights and options, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
At Garmo and Garmo, we have in-depth knowledge of the complexities involved with bus accident cases, and we are committed to providing the skilled and personalized representation our clients need and deserve. For a free consultation and case assessment, contact our El Cajon office today at 619-441-2500.