Now that school is back in session here in Polk County, busses will frequent our roadways from morning to late afternoon, and chances are, you'll come into contact with at least one at some point during your morning or evening commute. We all remember being taught the "rules of the road" during drivers ed. and school busses were a hot topic in that course; however, it's easy to forget the details as we get more experienced behind the wheel, and that blasé mentality that develops over time could cost you, and someone else, greatly. What's more, many teen drivers haven't yet experienced navigating roads with school busses as COVID had busses on pause for many months over the last year and a half. New drivers will need to be especially careful during these first few weeks of school. Don't forget, young children frequently forget the rules of the road (or the bus stop) in their excitement, and if they run the wrong way leaving their bus, dart out between parked cars, or run across a crosswalk at the wrong time, it could be devastating to both you as a driver and to their families if you aren't being responsible behind the wheel. That's why we decided to put together a few refresher points for drivers to keep in mind as they interact with busses on the road this school year.
- NEVER pass a stopped school bus with the STOP sign extended. This is a hard and fast rule with no exceptions. If you are behind a school bus and it comes to a stop and extends the signs (and turns on the flashers) you stay put. Failing to do so could not only result in a hefty ticket for you, but could kill or injure a child attempting to board or get off the bus. Think you can sneak by without getting caught? Many busses have added cameras in recent years. Better to be safe than sorry!
- If you are approaching a bus head on, and there is no median in between the two directions on the roadway, you must stop when they do. Children are often crossing the street to get home, and they have the right of way in that situation.
- If you are approaching a bus from the opposite direction and there IS a median in between, you are allowed to keep going, but we urge you to do so with caution. Drive slowly, stay alert, and watch for children darting out.
- Be vigilant in areas where parents are parked and waiting on children to exit the busses. This is especially common in residential neighborhoods. These areas are a prime example of situations where small children (or even older teens) could walk out in front of you unexpectedly, and you would be responsible for stopping on a dime.
No one wants to be responsible for the pain of a child of any age, so we encourage you to take note of the points above and review them often. Have a teen driver at home? Urge them to do the same! For families suffering from the injury or death of someone they love due to the negligence of another driver, Jiles Law, P.A. is proud to be an advocate both in and out of the courtroom. Winter haven families trust us to act in their best interest and get the results they need and deserve from their case. We go to court for you!