Dangers Involving Bus StopsDecember 5, 2018
Last month, the lives of three young children in Indiana were tragically cut short when they were hit by a car while crossing the street to get on their stopped school bus. The driver passed the stopped school bus even while the stop-arm was engaged. The accident made national news and raised awareness about the dangers facing pedestrians getting to and from bus stops.
According to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, this accident is indicative of a larger national problem. The agency surveyed bus drivers in 38 states and found that in a single day, 20 percent of drivers reported vehicles pass them while stopped. This equates to around 84,000 motor vehicles passing school buses in the process of picking up or dropping off children at bus stops across the country.
Enforcing Stop-Arm Violations
All 50 states have laws on the books making it illegal to pass a school bus on an undivided highway with a stop-arm extended or red lights flashing to indicate that children are loading or unloading. Bus drivers will engage yellow flashing lights to indicate they are preparing to stop. At this point, drivers should slow down and prepare to come to a complete stop. A bus driver then activates red flashing lights and releases the stop-arm. At this point, motorists should come to a complete stop.
Laws regarding stopping for buses on divided highways vary from state to state, but across the country, all traffic behind a bus where children are getting on or off must stop. Penalties for violating bus passing are severe and may involve fines, license suspensions, and even imprisonment. In Maryland, passing a stopped bus is considered a misdemeanor offense.
Preventing Bus Accidents
In addition to the enforcement of bus passing laws, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends other ways to increase the awareness of dangers near bus stops and reduce the number of accidents and injuries to pedestrians. The NHTSA studied the problem in a few states and found that many motorists are largely unaware of the laws and protocol when it comes to passing a stopped bus. Surprisingly, many drivers are aware they are required to stop for buses picking up and dropping off passengers, and the steep penalties for not doing so.
The NHTSA recommends a four-part initiative for cities and towns across the United States to prevent bus stop accidents:
- Education: Raising awareness about the dangers near bus stops
- Enforcement: Increasing compliance with traffic laws that protect pedestrians
- Engineering: Designing buses, stop-arms, and lights to make them more visible to drivers
- Legislation: Passing laws and policies to protect schoolchildren
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Pedestrians Injured by Negligent Drivers
The trip to and from school should be a safe journey for every child, every day. If you or a loved one has been harmed by a negligent driver, let the skilled and determined Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton advocate for you. Contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation today or call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529).
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