Summer traffic is coming to and end, but that means a completely different type of traffic—school traffic. As the summer is winding to a close, many parents may feel anxious to get the kids back off to school. However, with school traffic comes greater risk. There are more people on the road during certain hours, busses are running, and there may be kids of all ages choosing to walk to school. There are many risks that come along with every single one of these factors, Even if you do not have children, this rise and change in traffic can have a major effect on you, and it is important to understand ways to safely interact with increased traffic, children, and school busses.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), riding a school bus is 13 times safer than riding in a passenger vehicle, and ten times safer than walking to school. With this statistic in mind, it comes to no surprise how many busses we see in the mornings and the abundance of groups of children waiting at bus stops that we may pass during the drive to work. According to this same study by the NHTSA, most children that lose their lives in school bus related accident are pedestrians that have been hit
by a vehicle interacting with the bus in an illegal fashion. We all need to understand the safest ways to interact with school busses on the road so that we, as well as the children, are all safe come the first day of school.
Do you understand school bus laws?
In Alaska, and throughout the rest of the United States, it is illegal to pass a school bus that has stopped to pick up or drop off children. At these types of stops, there are a lot of children near the street, whether it is in the morning or the afternoon. School busses pick up children from kindergarten through high school, so the experience level variation is wide. While the older riders may understand how to safely board and get off the bus, the younger children may not understand this concept. They are unpredictable. This means that drivers all around the school bus must be attentive to what is happening around them, ensuring the safety of all children involved, no matter their age.
School busses have different lights to indicate to other drivers what is happening.
- If there are yellow lights that are flashing, this means that the bus is going to stop to stop at an upcoming bus stop.
- Red lights that are flashing will be accompanied by an extended stop sign means that the bus is stopped and that no one shall pass the bus. During this time, all motorists on both sides of an undivided roadway must stop. For divided roadways, only the cars traveling in the same direction of the bus must stop.
Passing a school bus on the right is always illegal, no matter the circumstances on the roadway. Not following this law could result in fatal consequences.
Operating a Vehicle Around Child Pedestrians
As stated earlier, there are a lot of dangers that come with children at bus stops and walking to school. During the early morning hours and the hours following the school day, there are a lot of children of all ages on the streets. Every single driver on the road, whether you are a parent or not, needs to understand the risks and dangers of this heightened foot traffic.
Generally speaking, pedestrians should always have the right of way at intersections. Even if the right of way is unknown, drivers should still proceed with caution as they are the much bigger vehicle, meaning that they are in less danger of injury than a pedestrian. Children may not always know or fully understand the rules of the road, meaning that they can act unpredictably. It is up to the drivers to be smart around these types of pedestrians.
Younger Drivers are on the Road
Many high school students choose to drive to school if they have their driver’s license. This means that the road will be busier with inexperienced drivers once the school year starts. Some of these students may have gotten their license over the summer, meaning that they are very new to driving. With every student going to and leaving school around the same time, the roads around the district may be very crowded with these young drivers. For safety, it is best to anticipate everything that comes with these types of drivers. If you are more aware of the dangers of the road and those around you, accidents can be more easily avoided.
The most important thing to remember when dealing with back to school traffic and school busses is that all children, no matter if they are in high school or kindergarten, act unpredictably. Using caution and understanding the laws surrounding pedestrians and school busses can make the road a safer place for everyone involved.
At Kelley & Canterbury LLC, we care about Alaska residents, no matter what age. School and education is important, and everyone should feel safe travelling to school. If you or a loved on has been injured in a car accident due to after school traffic or some other reason, do not hesitate to contact an attorney at Kelly & Canterbury LLC today.
The best way to stay safe with heightened traffic is to be prepared. Contact us with any further questions you may have about back to school traffic.