With the school year right around the corner, safety on the roads becomes a big concern. In Massachusetts, school buses transport over 400,000 students every year. For the safety of everyone on the roads, reacquainting ourselves with the laws when sharing the road with school buses becomes essential. Parents, students, and drivers alike can benefit from knowing the laws and facts involving school buses.
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the safest way for students to get to school is by school bus. The buses themselves result in very few injuries to children, with most injuries occurring when students get on and off the bus and are hit by passing cars, or even the bus driver, who can’t see them.
- One of the many ways to prevent such accidents is to educate children and parents on proper behaviors on and around the school bus. This can include teaching children to take between 5 and 10 large steps in front of the bus before crossing. Additionally, parents and children can review curriculum and videos about proper safety procedures. Training from schools is also important, and required in Massachusetts, with classroom instruction required three times a year and bus evacuation drills required twice a year.
- In Massachusetts, all traffic must stop when a school bus is picking up or dropping off children. Failing to yield to a school bus with its lights on and stop sign out can result in a minimum fine of $200, with much graver concerns about the safety of the children on the bus. Also, bus drivers have the right to report the license plate numbers of vehicles that pass them illegally.
- If you’re not sure whether a school bus is stopped to let children on or off, look for the flashing red lights and stop sign on the side of the bus. If the lights are on and the stop sign is extended, drivers must stop, regardless of which side of the road they are on, until the lights stop and the sign retracts.
- We’ve all seen the signs on the back of the buses that read “Keep back 100 feet,” but do we actually follow it? Staying back 100 feet allows time to break and space for students to cross the street safely. When the school bus is stopped to let students cross, these students have the right of way to cross the street.
- Massachusetts law sets the speed limit at 20 mph in school zones. If you are caught speeding in a school zone, the speeding fine is doubled.
- On large yellow school buses, passengers aren’t required to wear seatbelts, though bus drivers must wear seatbelts when transporting students. However, many states and districts have passed laws that require students to wear seatbelts. If you are interested in addressing this issue in your district, you can bring it up with your local lawmakers. Anyone interested in safety belts on school buses can address the issue on the district level; over twenty communities have developed local policies and regulations regarding safety belts on school buses.
- National School Bus Safety Week is meant to educate students, parents, and the general public about the importance of school bus safety. This program will be from October 21-25 this year and the theme is “My School Bus, The Safest Form of Student Transportation!”
- If you’re interested in learning more about Massachusetts laws regarding school bus safety practices and laws, visit https://www.mass.gov/service-details/school-bus-safety-fact-sheet.
If you have been injured in a crash due to someone else’s negligence, call Dussault & Zatir today at 508-999-2000.