When a school bus is stopped with its visual signals flashing, it is illegal for motorists in either direction to pass unless there is a grass strip or “physical dividing median.” At least it was. A recent revision to Georgia law now allows vehicles to pass a school bus that is loading or unloading children even if no physical barrier exists.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a majority of fatal bus accidents involving elementary school-aged children don’t occur on the bus, they occur when a child is hit by a vehicle moving past or around the bus. This makes Georgia’s new school bus law all the more beguiling.
While the new school bus law does require some separation between children and passing vehicles, it removes barriers that could prevent a vehicle from hitting a pedestrian, particularly one that moves in an unpredictable way - like a child. This makes it extremely important that you talk to your children about how to safely walk to, from, and around the bus.
You can help keep your child safe on his or her way to the bus stop by instructing them to:
- Stay on the sidewalk at all times
- Only cross the street at crosswalks
- Only cross the street with traffic signals
- Even with signals and crosswalks, look both ways twice before entering the street
At the bus stop, children should be instructed to stay off of the road, avoid roughhousing, and keep electronics shut off and put away. Inattention to the surrounding environment increases the risk for injury.
When the bus arrives, children should be instructed to board in an orderly fashion, find their seats, and stay put until they are at school.
Once at school, children should be instructed to leave the bus in an orderly fashion and not walk around, in front of, or behind the bus. Buses park in such a way that children do not need to cross the street or circumvent the vehicle to get to school. There should be no reason for your child to go around the bus while at school.
If your child needs to walk around a bus, make sure they know to:
- Allow at least 12 feet between themselves and the bus
- Make sure the bus driver can see them
- Wait to make sure there is no traffic trying to pass in either direction
These common-sense steps will help keep your child safe, but nothing can guarantee against harm when drivers behave poorly. If your child is injured in a pedestrian accident, around his or her bus stop or anywhere else, our Atlanta personal injury lawyers may be able to help your family get justice. During your free case evaluation, we can provide you with honest advice on how to proceed with your claim to help ensure you and your child are provided with the compensation you need to recover.
To schedule a complimentary case evaluation at our Atlanta office, please call 404-760-7400. Watkins, Lourie, Roll & Chance serves bus accident victims living in and around Savannah, Columbus, Decatur, and Augusta.