As summer draws to a close, one thing is for certain: back-to-school season is here in Illinois and in states across the country. While the summer months present unique safety concerns of their own, back-to-school time can be a particularly frustrating adjustment for motorists, who likely did not have to navigate roadways filled with buses or small children for the past few months. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) issued a comprehensive guide on motorist safety with regards to school buses and other traffic issues presented by back-to-school time. Read on for tips on how to navigate some common scenarios.
Passing a School Bus
According to the ISBE, children are at the greatest risk when boarding or exiting the school bus. Children may become distracted, cross the street without warning, fail to ensure the road is clear before crossing, and may even be blocked from view by the bus as they attempt to navigate around it. In addition, many students likely expect traffic to stop for them while crossing the street at a bus stop.
Illinois law says that when a school bus is stopped and is picking up or dropping off students on a two-lane road, vehicles in both lanes of traffic must stop in order to let the students cross the street safely. It is illegal for a vehicle to pass a school bus in this situation. If the roadway has four or more lanes, only the vehicles traveling in the same direction as the bus are required to stop, provided at least two of the lanes are in the opposite direction. On roads that are one-way, all vehicles must stop behind the bus, regardless of the number of lanes.
It is important to note that the majority of students who are fatally injured while traveling to or from school are involved in crashes outside the bus, as opposed to on it. Most often these children are hit by drivers who do not stop behind the bus as required by law, and despite the fact that the bus driver employs the use of flashing lights and the extended stop arm.
Illinois law also requires school buses to always stop at railroad crossings, whether students are on board or not. Drivers who are traveling behind a bus in this situation should let the bus completely cross the tracks before attempting to do so themselves. In addition, the driver should ensure enough room for their car to clear the tracks on the other side before crossing them, in order to avoid being stuck on the tracks if the bus has to stop prematurely.
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