School bus accidents are some of the most severe and deadly that occur on South Carolina roadways. The sheer size of the vehicle and the fact that they are usually transporting numerous children as passengers increases the likelihood of serious injuries resulting from a bus crash. School bus crashes are sometimes the fault of the bus drivers, but at other times, drivers of private vehicles are the ones at fault.
Unfortunately, bus accidents occur far more often than they should. And with summer coming to a close and kids going back to school, we are once again entering the season of heavy school bus traffic. This is a good time for us to focus on what we can do as drivers who share the road with school buses to ensure that we all stay safe.
Here are five important tips to follow to avoid accidents with school buses:
- Be Aware of Children Near Bus Stops
When you pass by kids gathered at a bus stop, you can be sure that the school bus is not far away. It could be right behind you, or it could turn in front of you from a different direction. Either way, be prepared for the possibility of having to stop and wait for kids to get on the bus. On a related note, when children are waiting for the bus, you never know when one might dash out into the street. Also, be mindful and alert for children who might be arriving late to the bus stop. These kids are often so focused on catching the bus, they do not pay attention to other traffic on the road.
- Slow Down when You are Behind a Bus
School buses travel at slower speeds than other vehicles. When we are driving to work in the morning or home in the evening, we are sometimes in a hurry. However, one of the best ways to avoid accidents with school buses is to accept the fact that you are going to need to drive slower for a while. It is best to just adopt the mindset that when there is a bus in front of you, it is similar to being in slow traffic on the highway. There is nothing you can do about it, so you might as well just slow down and relax.
- Give the Bus Plenty of Space
As mentioned earlier, school buses are large vehicles often with many passengers who are minors. For this reason, it is good to give them at least a car length of space on the road. Buses need that space, because they often make sudden stops to let children on and off. Keep in mind also that school buses are required to come to a complete stop at railroad crossings, so if you are approaching railroad tracks, be prepared for this.
- Pay Attention to Bus Signals and What they Mean
Be aware of the signals a school bus makes and what these signals mean. Turn signals are self-explanatory but be sure to slow down and give the bus plenty of space when they signal that they are going to make a turn. Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is getting ready to stop and pick up or drop off children. When you see yellow lights, you should slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop arm mean the bus has already stopped and kids are loading or unloading. Other motorists must stop until the extended stop arm is lowered, and the bus begins moving again.
- Follow the South Carolina S.A.V.E. Law
South Carolina’s Stop Arm Violation Education-Enforcement (S.A.V.E.) law is designed to catch more motorists who illegally pass buses while their stop sign and/or extended arm is raised. More surveillance cameras have been installed in school zones, increasing the chances of violators being caught. Violating the S.A.V.E. law is not only dangerous, it can also be expensive. Penalties start at $500 for first-time violations and can go up to $2,000 for multiple offenses.
When You Do Everything Right and Still Get in a School Bus Accident
Accidents with school buses can happen even when motorists follow all the rules. This can occur because of recklessness or negligence on the part of the school bus driver, mechanical issues, auto part defects, and other factors. If you or a loved one has suffered injury in a school bus accident, you may be entitled to compensation. To understand your rights and options, it is important to consult with a legal professional as soon as possible. For a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our skilled auto accident attorneys, contact us today at 803-998-2412.