School’s In Session
With school back in session, more school buses will be on the road, traffic will be heavier in the vicinity of schools and more children will be out and about. Interestingly enough, children are safer traveling in school buses than in any other type of motor vehicle. Most school bus accidents occur when children are exiting buses.
Here are some suggestions for safely driving in school zones and around school buses. Share this information with your drivers, as well as others in your organization:
When driving in areas with school zones, slow down, drive more carefully and be extra vigilant and alert. Children have limited experience using the roads and are spontaneous in their actions.
Watch for children who may be playing near the street or walking to school. They may be fooling around and not minding traffic, and may dart from between parked cars or shrubbery, or run across the road to catch a bus without looking.
Keep in mind that children are still learning to determine the source of a sound and judge distances and speeds. They cannot accurately tell where a vehicle is coming from nor judge how fast it is traveling.
Follow all posted speed limits. Speed limits in school zones are usually 15-20 miles per hour, unless otherwise posted.
Safety patrol members at crosswalks are there to direct school students not the traffic. Law enforcement officials at crosswalks, on the other hand, do both. If directed to stop, stop well before the crosswalk and stay stopped until directed to continue on.
Be aware of the flashing signal light system that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of their pending actions:
Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load/unload children. Slow down and prepare to stop, regardless of your direction of travel.
Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped and that children are getting on/off. You must stop and wait until the red lights stop flashing and the extended stop sign is withdrawn. This signals that all the children are loaded on the bus or have safely crossed the street. You must stay stopped until the school bus begins moving again.
After stopping for a school bus, watch for children along the side of the road, and drive slowly until you have passed them.
You must always stop when traveling in the same direction as the bus.
When traveling in the opposite direction, each state is a little different regarding which vehicles have to stop when a school bus is loading/ unloading students. Some states allow vehicles to continue on if the school bus is on the opposite side of a divided or multi-lane roadway. Know the law in the states you travel.
All states require school buses to stop at all railroad crossings.
While there are rigid penalties to deter unsafe driving in school zones and school buses, the precious cargo being carried by the school buses should be the motivation for safe driving. BI
David Kolman is a veteran truck communicator, keynote speaker and long-haul trucker. Commissioned as an Honorary Colonel on the Kentucky governor’s staff for his work promoting traffic safety, he actively participates in trade associations and reports news and information about the trucking industry for broadcasting and print media.
Equipment news roundup
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Sterling Trucks unit of DaimlerChrysler plans to introduce a new cabover truck for the North American market next year that covers Classes 3, 4 and 5. The vehicle will be manufactured using common components and parts from across DaimlerChrysler’s various brands. Further development of other mid-range offerings is also in the works.