School’s back in session in Southern Maryland! The school buses have been running again for a few days now as kids across the region start an exciting new school year.
Over a long summer, it can be easy to forget the laws and safety guidelines around school buses. Do you know when you have to stop for a stopped school bus? What’s the difference between the red and yellow flashing lights?
The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration offers a helpful reminder of school bus laws for motorists on its website. Break these laws, and you could face a $570 fine and a three-point penalty on your license. Even worse, a child could be injured or killed.
Here’s what you need to know:
Flashing yellow lights mean the school bus is preparing to stop to pick up or discharge children. Motorists should slow down and get ready to stop.
Flashing red lights mean the bus is stopped to load or unload kids. The stop sign arm will also be extended. Drivers traveling in both directions must stop until the red lights are off and the stop sign arm has been retracted.
When do drivers traveling in the opposite direction of a school bus need to stop? This helpful graphic from the Maryland Department of Transportation explains it.
Drivers need to be alert when they’re driving through neighborhoods and school zones, especially during the times when school is beginning or letting out. But, there are things parents and kids can do to help keep themselves safe while they wait for and board the school bus:
- Get to the bus stop early. This ensures kids won’t be rushed. When they’re rushed, they are less likely to being paying attention to traffic and the movements of the bus itself.
- Stand at least 6 feet from the curb when waiting for the bus. Help kids figure out how far away to stand by telling them to take three giant steps from the curb.
- Wait for the bus to stop completely and get the driver’s OK before boarding the bus.
- Before you step off the bus, look for traffic.
- Children who need to cross the street in front of the bus should walk far enough away from the school bus that they can see the driver. Wait for the driver’s OK before crossing the street.
- Don’t walk too close to the school bus. The driver may not be able to see you and may not know you are there.
According to the National Highway TrafficSafety Administration, the greatest danger to kids is when they are getting on and getting off the bus, not while they are riding the bus. With some extra care and attention from motorists, students, and parents, we can all help keep kids safe.
Have a fun and happy school year, Southern Maryland!
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