Good news, parents: The first day of school is just around the corner. The end of August in Chicago signals a return to a regular routine for most households. Now is a good time to teach young students and new drivers about staying safe around school buses.
School bus safety requires informed students and cautious drivers, as we all share the road in getting to school and work.
Tips for Students
If you have children who ride the bus, you’re likely planning for hurried mornings and rushing to get the kids out the door and to their bus stop on time. Did you know that Chicago Public Schools recommends students arrive at their bus stop 10 minutes ahead of their scheduled pick-up time?
Some more tips from CPS:
- Stay away from the danger zone around the bus. Buckle Up Illinois defines the danger zone as the 10-foot area on all sides of the bus where children are in the most danger of being hit. They suggest taking five giant steps away from the bus before crossing so that the driver can see them.
- Wait until the bus is completely stopped, and watch for the driver’s signal before boarding the bus.
- Look left and right before boarding to make sure the road is clear, especially if the bus has stopped away from the curb.
- Listen to the bus driver, teacher or any other adult who is in charge on the bus. They will signal when it is safe to get out of your seats and when to get on and off the bus. They also will give instructions in an emergency.
Tips for Drivers
If you drive to work, you might add a few extra minutes onto your morning commute time as your neighborhood school bus route resumes. You are required by law to stop when a school bus is picking up or dropping off students. The Illinois State Board of Education offers clarity on the rules of the road:
- If the bus is stopped, its red lights are flashing and its stop sign is out on the left side, you must to stop, too. Do not try to go around the bus. Children expect traffic to stop and might not see you if you shoot past the bus. The minimum fine for illegally passing a school bus is $150, and you can even have your license suspended for three months, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
- On a two-lane road: Traffic going in both directions must stop.
- On a multi-lane, one-way road: Traffic in all lanes must stop.
- On a 4-lane roadway, with at least two lanes traveling in opposite directions: Traffic traveling the same direction as the bus must stop. Traffic going the opposite way of the bus does not have to stop, but should still be on the lookout out for kids crossing the street.
- Railroad crossings: School buses have to stop at railroad crossings. So be ready for that bus in front of you to stop. Make sure the bus has completely cleared the tracks before you follow it.
Can’t wait for school to start? Chicago Public Schools start on August 26. Suburban school start dates begin in the middle of August and vary depending on the district. The best bet is to call your school and double check. Be ready for the first day.
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