School is back in session, and once again, drivers have to reacquaint themselves with school zone laws. Special traffic laws are in place around schools, called school zones, in order to keep kids safe as they arrive and depart school, as well as during the school day.
Some school zone traffic laws are obvious, such as the signs indicating the reduced speed limit. However, other laws are not so obvious, especially when it comes to sharing the road with school buses. Here are some important laws to keep in mind this school year:
- A school bus is unloading or loading children when its lights are flashing, its red stop sign is out or both. Drivers need to be extremely aware at this time because it is when children are most vulnerable to getting hit by cars.
- Never pass a school bus that is loading or unloading students. This applies to cars approaching the bus head-on or coming up from behind the bus, unless the highway is divided. Fines can be more than $1,000 for doing so, and you run the risk of injuring a child.
- Drivers cannot proceed around the bus until the school bus is moving, the school bus driver waves on the driver or the lights and stop sign are no longer activated.
- School buses always have the right-of-way when their flashing lights are on, and pedestrians should always be assumed to have the right-of-way after exiting the bus.
Other back to school driving tips to remember:
- It is against the law for drivers to use a cellphone while the vehicle is in a school zone and moving. It is lawful to use a cellphone when the vehicle is in a school zone but not in motion, but it is always best to put cellphones away. Exceptions do exist for emergency situations.
- Bicycles should be ridden with the flow of traffic, on the right-side curb, not against it. Bicyclists should wear and helmet and walk their bikes when on sidewalks.
- Children should be reminded not to run out into the street from in between cars because drivers may not see them or have time to apply the brakes.
If an accident does occur with a school bus, in a school zone or involving a pedestrian or student, it's important to immediately contact a personal injury lawyer, who can make sure that your rights are protected.