You’ve made it to your car, coffee in hand, still rubbing the sleep out of your eyes to begin your commute to your office when suddenly up ahead you see something. What is that? Its huge, its yellow, it has flashing red lights and a huge stop sign attached to its side – oh yes, it is a SCHOOL BUS!
With children across Maryland returning to school this month, it’s a good time to remind drivers out there to slow down, be on the lookout, and come to a stop for buses loading and unloading school kids. Sadly, according to the Maryland State Highway Administration’s website, an average of 7 school-age passengers are killed in school bus crashes each year, and 19 are killed getting on and off the bus. Most of those killed are children, five to seven years old. They are hit in the Danger Zone around the bus, either by a passing vehicle or by the school bus itself.
In Maryland, it is illegal for a vehicle to pass a school bus with its red light flashing. You must stop your vehicle at least 20 feet from the front or rear of the bus, and you must remain stopped until the school vehicle resumes motion or the alternately flashing red lights are deactivated. Whether you are traveling on a two-lane roadway, a two-lane roadway with a center turning lane, or a four-lane roadway without a median separation, all traffic from both directions must stop.
Do you cringe and shake your head when you hear about an accident involving a school bus? Do you say to yourself “really, how could someone run into the back of a BUS?!?! Trust me, knowing the number of bus drivers our workers’ compensation and personal injury departments have represented over the years, it happens far too often.
So please, slow down, pay attention to the little ones and those huge yellow buses, and let us all enjoy another happy school year.