School Zone Safety

South Carolina Department
of Public Safety


School Bus Safety

Twenty-three million students nationwide ride a school bus to and from school each day. Wherever you live, the familiar yellow school bus is one of the most common motor vehicles on the road. It is also the safest. School buses manufactured after January 1, 1977 must meet more federal motor vehicle safety standards than any other type of motor vehicle. In fact, during normal school transportation hours over the past 10 years, school buses are 87 times safer than passenger cars, light trucks, and vans, according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Getting On and Off the Bus Safely

Because getting on and off the bus is the most dangerous part of the school bus ride, the loading and unloading area is called the “Danger Zone.” This area-which extends ten feet in front of the bus, ten feet on each side of the bus, and behind the bus-is where children are at greatest risk of not being seen by the bus driver.

Throughout the year, especially at the start of school, children need to be taught how to get on and off the school bus safely. Parents should help their children learn and follow these common-sense practices:

  • Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. Running to catch the bus is dangerous and can lead to injuries.
  • When the bus approaches, stand at least five giant steps (10 feet) away from the curb, and line up away from the street.
  • Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it’s okay before stepping onto the bus.
  • If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the road to a point at least five giant steps ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you and you can see the bus driver when crossing the street. Stop at the edge of the bus and look left-right-left before crossing.
  • Use the handrails to avoid falls. When getting off the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags and backpacks with straps don’t get caught in the handrails or door.
  • Never walk behind the bus.
  • Walk at least five giant steps away from the side of the bus.
  • If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up, because the driver might not be able to see you.

Riding Safely

Students also need to behave safely during the school bus ride. Basic safety rules include the following:

  • Always sit fully in the seat and face forward

  • Never distract the driver

  • Never stand on a moving bus

  • Obey the driver

  • Speak in a low voice, no screaming or shouting

  • Never stick anything out the window (arms, legs, head, book bags, etc.)

Safety Rules for Motorists

Motorists also need to observe traffic safety rules around school buses. First and foremost, they must know and understand the school bus laws in their state. In particular, they must be aware that it is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that has stopped to load or unload students.

Motorists must learn the “flashing signal light system” that school bus drivers use to alert motorists that they are going to stop to load or unload students:

  • Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.

  • Red flashing lights and extended stop arm indicate that the bus has stopped and that children are getting on or off.

  • Motorist on any highway that has only two-travel lanes, one in each direction, must stop for the bus whether approaching from the front or overtaking from the rear and remain stopped until the lights are no longer activated or the bus resumes motion.

  • Motorist traveling on multi-lane roadways, which have at least two lanes of travel in each direction, must stop for the bus if overtaking the bus from the rear and remain stopped until the lights are no longer activated or the bus resumes motion, however motorist approaching a bus from the front, on this type multi-lane roadway need not stop but proceed with caution.

     

Home

School Zone Facts
Safety Tips
Activities
Activity Reports


 

 

For more information contact the Office of Highway Safety at 1-877-349-7187.