School Bus Safety
Nearly one million students are safely transported in school buses daily across Virginia to school, field trips, athletics and other school-sponsored activities. Students riding a school bus versus a vehicle are much more likely to arrive at school safely because school buses:
- are the most regulated vehicles on the road
- are highly visible
- have flashing red lights and stop-sign arms
Why no seat belts?
How can a school bus be the safest transportation for students when it isn’t equipped with seat belts? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses have strong, closely-spaced seats that have energy-absorbing seat backs to protect students from crashes; plus, passengers experience much less crash force on a school bus compared to other vehicles.
Stop. It's the law
Drivers are required to follow certain laws when encountering a school bus. Virginia motorists must:
- stop for stopped school buses with flashing red lights and an extended stop sign when approaching from any direction
- remain stopped until everyone is clear and the bus moves again
- stop whenever the bus is loading or unloading passengers, even if the lights and stop sign are not activated
If a school bus is on the opposite side of a median or barrier, motorists aren’t required to stop; however, drivers should be prepared for students exiting the school bus and crossing into their lanes.
Make it safe
Motorists should watch for children gathering near bus stops, and walking in groups to and from the bus stop. Drivers should be extra alert for children walking or bicycling to school when:
- backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage
- driving in neighborhoods with school zones
- there are no sidewalks in a neighborhood
Most school bus incidents happen when students are traveling to the bus stop, or getting on and off the bus. If students have to cross the street in front of the bus, they should walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus before crossing. Students need to make sure they can see the bus driver, and that the driver sees them. When the bus approaches, students should line up at least five giant steps (10 feet) away from the curb and the street. When the bus comes to a complete stop and the door opens, students should check for traffic once more before boarding.
School Bus Safety Resources
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - School Bus Safety
- Safe Kids – School Bus Safety
- Virginia Highway Safety Office Contacts