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Back to School: Exercise Caution with School Buses

Early yesterday morning, four students suffered minor injuries when their school bus and another vehicle were involved in a collision. The car accident occurred at Galveston Avenue and Lamson Street near Arlington, according to The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department. The students were taken to the hospital to be evaluated.

The bus was en route to Terry Parker High School on the second day of school for Duval County Public Schools. Apparently, the driver of the car ran a stop sign and crashed into the school bus. Now that school is back in session, there is much more traffic on Jacksonville’s roadways. Drivers should take extreme caution have patience, especially in school zones and around school buses.

During the school year, there are approximately 480,000 school buses on America’s roads, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Approximately 26 million students – elementary and secondary school – ride on school buses twice a day during the school year. The average school bus has 54 students.

The National Safety Council reports that school bus accident rates are .01 per 100 million miles traveled, compared to .04 for trains, .06 for planes and .96 compared to other passenger vehicles.

While riding in a school bus is relatively safe, continued low accident rates hinge partially on whether drivers obey school bus safety rules. If you encounter a school bus, it is your responsibility to follow Florida’s School Bus Laws:

• Drivers must come to a complete stop when traveling behind a school bus displaying its flashing red lights and extended stop signs. Do not pass a school bus until the sign is collapsed.

• If you are traveling in the opposite direction of the school bus on a two lane road with no barrier or median, you must stop and remain stopped until the bus stop sign and flashing lights recede.

• If you are driving in the opposite direction of the school bus on a divided highway with an unpaved space of at five feet or more, a physical barrier or a raised median, you are not required to stop.

Drivers who pass a school bus while its lights are flashing and the stop signs are extended can be issued a moving violation, along with fines and points on their driver’s license. Repeated offenses can result in having your driver’s license suspended.

Students, too, should be careful at bus stops and while on the bus. If your child is a bus rider, here are some good safety tips to share:

• Get to the bus stop about five minutes before the bus’s scheduled arrival.

• At the bus stop, be sure you are in a safe area away from the road while waiting for the bus.

• When boarding, wait for the bus driver’s signal that it is okay to get on the bus. Use the handrail when going up and down the bus stairs.

• Depart from the school bus only at your designated bus stop.

• Never walk behind a school bus or run after a school bus.

• Follow your bus driver’s rules and instructions.

• Never talk to strangers at the bus stop and never get in a car with someone who you do not know.

We can all work together to make this school year a safe one.

Written by Elizabeth Allen
If you have been involved in an accident with a school bus, or if your child was riding a bus during an accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Give our Jacksonville attorneys a call to discuss your car accident situation.