School buses happen to be one of the safest vehicles on the roadway. Every day, millions of children ride school buses and less than 1% of all traffic deaths involve children on school buses.
School buses are designed so that they are highly visible to others and are equipped with safety features like flashing red lights, stop-arm signs, cross-view mirrors, high crush standards, protective seating, and rollover protection features.
Children are at a greater risk of being involved in an accident when entering or exiting a school bus than when they are passengers on one, so it is very important for all drivers, parents, and students to understand school bus safety.
As a motorist, if you see a school bus slowing down or stopping, then you need to keep your eyes alert for any nearby children. You should never pass a stopped school bus as children wait several feet away from the bus and may cross the street before boarding or when they get off the bus.
It is Illegal to Pass a School Bus with a Stop-Arm Extended
Illegally passing a school bus places a threat to children and others sharing the road. It is illegal to attempt to pass a school bus stopped with the stop-arm extended and red lights flashing.
You should familiarize yourself with the flashing lights that school bus drivers use to alert drivers of their intentions.
Yellow Flashing Lights: These are used by school bus drivers to alert drivers that they are getting ready to stop or unload children. If you see yellow flashing lights, then you should start slowing down and be prepared to stop your car.
Red Flashing Lights and a Stop-Arm Extended: This means that children are getting on or off the school bus. You need to stop your vehicle and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, and the school bus starts moving, before you start to drive your car again.
Talk to Your Children About School Bus Safety
We all want children to be safe at bus stops. As parents, you should routinely speak to your children about being safe at bus stops. Our Florida Personal Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton have a few tips about educating your kids on school bus safety.
Before the School Bus Gets to the Bus Stop
You should plan to get to the bus stop 5 minutes before the bus arrives. You should wait for the bus six feet (three giant steps) away from the curb. Remind your children that the bus stop is no place for running around or playing.
Entering and Exiting the School Bus
Do not board the school bus until it has come to a complete stop and the door is open and the driver says it is ok to get on or off. Encourage your child to use handrails to avoid a fall injury.
What Are the Penalties for Violating the Florida School Bus Stop Law?
If you are found to have illegally passed a stopped school bus, then the penalties can be severe. If you pass the school bus on the right side where children are entering or exiting you will be subject to higher fines due to the dangers attached to this illegal maneuver. A first-time offense can mean a fine of at least $400 as well as a mandatory completion of a driver improvement course and a possible four points added on to your driver’s license. If you are found to violate this law again within five years, your license could be suspended for up to two years.
Passing a school bus on the left side also comes with penalties, including:
- A minimum fine of $200
- Traffic school
- Points tacked on to your driver’s license
If you violate this law again within five years, then your license could be suspended for up to one year.
Every driver, parent, and student should brush up on their knowledge regarding school bus safety. Our Florida Personal Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want every child to get to and from school as safely as possible. If your child has been injured in a Florida school bus accident, then we are here to help. Call us now at 866-608-5529 or contact us online for a free consultation.