Back to School Bus Safety in the Age of COVID-19
Florida public schools (Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties) re-open next week and concerns over safety on the road and on the buses are at an all time high due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of all the complex decisions education leaders face as they plan to reopen schools for the 2020-21 academic year, the toughest one might be the most basic: how to get students to the buildings in the first place safely.
COVID-19 Precautions and School Buses – Adapting to Keep Kids Safe
The Transportation Department of the Escambia County School District places the safety of our students and staff as highest priority. Here are the steps they are taking to maximize safety all buses as your children head back to school on August 24, 2020.
– Training of all school bus drivers
– Face masks provided
– Students encouraged to wear face masks
– Hand sanitizer – to be used when entering and exiting the school bus
– All buses will be thoroughly disinfected at least twice per day.
– All school buses will have an established seating chart to maintain as much safe distance as possible.
Each district has posted instructions for helping parents find their child’s bus stop. You can find Santa Rosa County’s here >
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends students wear face coverings and sit one child per row while skipping rows whenever possible.
Is the School Bus Safer Than Driving Your Kids to School?
Students are about 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a bus instead of traveling by car. That’s because school buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road; they’re designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries; and in every state, stop-arm
• Different by Design: School buses are designed so that they’re highly visible and include safety features such as flashing red lights, cross-view mirrors and stop-sign arms. They also include protective seating, high crush standards and rollover protection features.
• Protected by the Law: Laws protect students who are getting off and on a school bus by making it illegal for drivers to pass a school bus while dropping off or picking up passengers, regardless of the direction of approach.
Slow Down: Back to School Means Sharing the Road
School days bring congestion: School buses are picking up their passengers, kids on bikes are hurrying to get to school before the bell rings, harried parents are trying to drop their kids off before work. It’s never more important for drivers to slow down and pay attention than when kids are present – especially before and after school.
Sharing the Road with School Buses
If you’re driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
• Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children
• If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop
• The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus
• Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks
Remember – Our Children’s Safety Comes First!
Although all parents warn their children about the dangers of traffic, we need to remember that children are still young and still learning. With all of the distractions around them, it’s easy to imagine a child stepping off of the bus and not being able to hear or notice oncoming traffic. We are the adults; it is our duty to abide by the laws put in place, not be in a hurry, or also be distracted.
Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. OUR AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident involving a school bus, it is important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.
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