Parents in Connecticut and elsewhere entrust their children’s safety to school bus drivers every day of the school year. By extension, they must also trust the drivers who share the roads with their kids’ buses.

Many parents worry about their children’s safety while they are waiting at the bus stop or riding the school bus, and this is understandable. Exactly how safe are school buses, and how safe are other drivers?

The greatest risk to children is near school buses

According to Stanford Children’s Health, every year about 17,000 children visit emergency rooms across the country for school bus-related injuries. Most of the accidents that result in serious injuries do not occur between buses and other vehicles, since school bus design reduces the risk of injuries.

A significant number of injuries occur as children are boarding or leaving their school buses. The “danger zone” is the most dangerous area of a school bus – 10 feet in front, behind or to either side of the bus. Bus drivers and those in other vehicles are less likely to see children who are in the danger zone.

Drivers need to take precautions when buses and children are out

Other drivers often cause fatalities and serious injuries when they fail to see children crossing the street or waiting at their bus stops. It is illegal to pass a school bus that has its warning lights on and the stop sign extended, but many drivers do so anyway. Drivers can protect children who are walking to school or their bus stops in the following ways:

  • Never pass a bus that has stopped to pick up or let children off.
  • Understand the laws regarding whether to stop for a bus that has stopped in the opposite direction of traffic.
  • Be vigilant in the mornings and late afternoons when children will be walking or riding their bicycles.
  • Watch for children nearby when backing out of a driveway or turning from a side street.
  • Reduce speed when driving in posted school zones.

Drivers have a serious responsibility to be aware of their surroundings, cautious when children are present and compliant of school zone and bus laws. Parents may have legal recourse if a negligent driver contributed to their child’s injuries.