School Bus Safety in Virginia – Everything You Should and Shouldn’t Do

by sem on April 8, 2013

Virginia School Bus Safety Program

The rules for dealing with school buses can be confusing to new drivers. The big yellow behemoths are in a category all their own. But understanding why the laws are in place can help you remember to follow them without a second thought.

HOW YOU SHOULD REACT

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offers some simple and practical advice for when you encounter a school bus on the road.

If you’re driving behind a school bus, you must be prepared to stop whenever it stops. This includes all traffic signals, of course, but also railroad crossings and especially the bus’ scheduled pickup destinations. The reason for this is simple: when a bus pulls over, school children are getting on and off of it. If you try to go around the bus, you could hit a child that’s crossing the street.

In addition, you never want to pass a school bus on the right. Not only is it illegal, but it’s the side where children get on and off, and could result in tragedy.

If you see yellow flashing lights, that means the bus is preparing to stop, and you should, too. You’ll know if the bus is loading or unloading children when you see the red flashing lights and stop arm protruding from its side. When you see these, stop at a safe distance and wait until the bus continues before you do. And even then, proceed with caution. Late children running for the bus might not look both ways before darting into the road.

If you’re on foot, you have to be just as careful, if not more. If you’re crossing the street in front of a bus, be sure to walk along the sidewalk until you’re 10 feet in front of it. That way you can ensure that your body is within the bus driver’s line of sight. Buses sit much higher off the ground than most cars and trucks, so the area directly in front of a school bus can wind up being a bit of a blind spot.

In addition to crossing the street, you should take caution whenever a school bus approaches. Standing 5-10 feet away from the curb will help the bus driver pull over successfully, and will keep you safe as well.

WHY ARE THERE NO SEAT BELTS IN SCHOOL BUSES?

Have you ever wondered why there are such strict laws concerning child safety belts in cars, yet there are no seat belts in school buses? Well, you aren’t alone—it’s a valid concern. It may seem dangerous, but school busses are actually one of the safest vehicles on the road.

School buses actually have a built-in occupant protection system that’s known as “compartmentalization.” The height and length of the seats, and even the amount of padding, are all specially designed to protect the children and minimize impact in the event of an accident. Think of an egg. If you put a dozen loose eggs in a grocery bag, you’d never make it home with an intact egg. The cardboard carton that they come in uses the same theory as a school bus, to best protect the fragile eggs.

If you think you might need further instruction on school bus safety, consider enrolling in an online driver improvement course. You’ll keep your driving skills razor sharp and everyone around you much safer.


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