Laws are established to attain peace and order. They are not only limited to serving justice but also to maintaining order in systems like transportation. People might think this is insignificant, but the number of accidents because of uncontrollable transportation is genuinely alarming.
One of the most commonly used vehicles nowadays is the school bus. They are solely made for students to ensure they are transported safely to their schools. Luckily, school buses are protected by laws to ensure optimal security for everyone.
School Bus Safety – In Numbers
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in the US, about 70% of people were killed in accidents involving school buses between 2011 and 2020.
The state of Florida has seen an alarming rate of school bus accidents. In 2015, it was reported that 2,698 school buses encountered accidents, and the number of cases regarding accidents that involved school buses rose by 16 percent between the years 2012 and 2015.
School bus laws are established in every state to help prevent these tragic accidents. Failure to comply with the said laws leads to the appropriate consequences, depending on how severe and how often a person violates the law. They also built standards and regulations like what are the rules for stopping for a school bus in Florida and the like. With that said, here’s a basic guide to school bus laws in the US.
School Bus Laws in the US
- School Bus Design
Usually, cars and other automobiles are painted in monochromatic shades. For easy distinction, the US Federal law mandates that school buses must be painted a bright shade of yellow, aptly named School Bus Yellow. They are designed that way so people can distinguish the school bus with just a glance. Its bright colors help prevent any untoward accidents from happening.
In addition to the color, school buses must also feature red and yellow flashing lights. These lights are designed for better communication between the bus and other vehicles. Yellow flashing lights mean the bus will soon stop to load or unload students, and the other vehicles are expected to slow down and prepare to stop.
On the other hand, red flashing lights mean that students are now getting on or off the school bus. Vehicles must stop and wait for the red flashing lights to withdraw signals before they continue to drive to prevent any incidents.
- School Bus Stopping
Every state has its own distinct laws when it comes to school bus stopping. Take, for instance, the state of Alabama, which uses amber flashing lights to let other vehicles know that the bus is preparing to stop. When their school bus’ amber flashing lights are visible from either direction, automobiles must be at least 20 feet away.
On the other hand, in the state of Alaska, other automobiles approaching a school bus on which the yellow warning signal lights are flashing are expected to reduce the speed of their vehicles. They must also bring the vehicle to a complete stop when the school bus stops and their red lights flash. Also, other vehicles shall remain at rest when the school bus stop sign is extended.
These are just some examples, but in almost all states, if a school bus is about to drop off students, other vehicles must stop as long as you are on a non-divided road. However, whenever other automobiles are on a divided highway, they are not required to stop even if the school bus is flashing its sign lights. To do this, one must be in opposing traffic lanes. This may apply to all other states, but this law is not applicable in the states of West Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi, and New York State.
Before being able to drive a school bus, the driver must first have certifications that will showcase that they can drive the said vehicle. Being careful and responsible is not enough attributes to be hired as one, but it should be one of the qualifications. Not everyone is allowed to drive a school bus. They must have the following:
- Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), preferably Class A or B
- A minimum of five (5) years of Class E license driving experience
- An endorsement for driving a passenger vehicle (P) and a school bus (S)
When it comes to their CDL, every state has its own qualifications to earn its CDL. Some required their drivers to pass both the written and driving tests to prove their capabilities to drive safely and with knowledge.
4. Driver Responsibilities
School bus drivers bear a heavy sense of responsibility in their careers. They are expected to follow and commit to their job and not do any unnecessary actions that may or may not directly affect their service, such as following the basic etiquette in driving.
Aside from that, it is also part of the school bus driver’s responsibility to let the officials know when there are emergencies related to the students. Swearing, shouting, and other aggressive behaviors are also prohibited, for they are observed by young students. They are also not allowed to change routes unless necessary. Schedules and places where they should pick up and drop off the students are already established, and it is the driver’s responsibility to follow.
Basically, the responsibilities given to school bus drivers revolve around the safety of the students. Aside from their job to ensure such things, it is also done to prevent accidents. Checking the tires, turn signals, and other equipment that keeps the school bus efficient is also part of their responsibility. The parents put their trust in them, so it will be their job to ensure their children will be back home safe.
In the US, there are established school bus laws in every state. The NHTSA reports alarming statistics that tell us the importance of school bus laws. Listed above are the basic school bus laws in the US and how everyone can contribute to the safety of the children.