While some people are aware that semi-trucks have large blind spots, few people realize that school buses have these large blind spots as well. When children are in these blind spots – known as school bus danger zones, the school bus driver and other motorists are unlikely to see them. And when other vehicles stray into these large blind spots, they are less likely to spot a child entering or leaving the bus.
Knowing where school bus blind spots are located and recognizing how large they are, can help keep kids and other motorists as safe as possible when school buses are on the road.
What Are School Bus Danger Zones?
Every standard size school bus has four danger zones. These are areas most motorists refer to as “blind spots” because it’s almost impossible for the driver to see anything inside these zones. The danger zones around a school bus are:
- Front Danger Zone – The front danger zone extends a full 10 feet from the front of the school bus. This danger zone is also the most dangerous blind spot area, as the bus driver is unable to see a child walking inside this zone. This is why it’s extremely important for children to understand that they can’t safely cross directly in front of a school bus.
- Right Side Danger Zone – The right and left side of the school bus danger zones are the same in terms of distance. Both danger zones extend 10 feet away from the bus’s side. Some estimates extend the side danger zones all the way to 12 feet on both sides.
- Left Side Danger Zone – The left side danger zone extends 10 feet away from the school bus’s side. Unlike the right side, however, this side of the bus is more likely to see passing traffic, which makes it more dangerous than the right side danger zone.
- Rear Danger Zone – The rear danger zone extends 10 feet behind the school bus. If a car or person enters this zone, the bus driver is unlikely to see them.
Most children are brought up to respect school buses and to assume that they are safe. Large, yellow school buses are a familiar site for kids, and familiarity often means children feel relaxed and confident.
This can be a great thing, but it’s important for parents to educate their kids about school bus safety and risks — especially risks posed by other motorists. Children should always feel comfortable getting on and off the school bus, but they should also remember to be alert and do so as safely as possible.
How To Keep Kids Safe Around School Buses
There are several things parents can do to keep their kids as safe as possible around school buses.
- Arrive early – If you’re rushing up to the school bus stop at the last minute, you’re less likely to be fully alert to your surroundings. Try to arrive at least five minutes before your regularly scheduled pick-up time.
- Stand back – School bus safety experts say it’s best to stay back at least 10 feet from the edge of the road where the school bus will arrive. Since children don’t always know what “10 feet” means, parents can instruct their children to stand back at least five big steps from the road.
- Watch for loose clothing – Make sure kids don’t have loose clothing or backpack straps dangling or hanging off their body. These can get caught in the bus door or handrail when entering or exiting the school bus.
- Always look both ways – From an early age, most parents tell their kids to look both ways before crossing the street. This statement is also true for boarding or exiting the school bus. Parents should teach their children to never assume that traffic has stopped simply because of a school bus.
- Keep the noise down – As any school bus driver or parent who has chaperoned a field trip can attest, school buses are generally very noisy places. Kids tend to talk loudly with their friends and classmates, which can make bus trips quite rowdy from time to time. Parents should talk to their kids about why it’s important to pay attention to their surroundings and to stay alert any time they enter or leave the bus.¹
Pennsylvania Rules For Motorists Around School Buses
Motorists in Pennsylvania have a legal obligation to follow the rules when it comes to driving around school buses. Motorists must stay back at least 10 feet any time a school bus is stopped or has its lights flashing. Considering that the rear blind spot is 10 feet, it’s easy to see why this law exists.
Additionally, all traffic — meaning traffic approaching from both directions — must stop when a school bus is stopped, has its red lights flashing or has a safety arm extended.
Motorists who violate the school bus stopping law face up to a $250 fine, a 60-day license suspension and the addition of five points on their driving record.²
Contact a Vehicle Accident Attorney
If your loved one has been injured in a school bus accident near Philadelphia, Demand Rand. Our auto accident attorneys have over 200 years of combined experience and can represent your best interests following an accident. Contact us today to get started.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorney Rand Spear
Two Penn Center Plaza, Suite 200
1500 J.F.K. Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19102.
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