Every day in the United States, about 25 million children begin and end their school days with a ride on a bus. When driving or walking near school buses, increased caution and attention is necessary, since they usually contain a number of children and the size of a school bus can decrease visibility for the driver of the bus and others. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 11,000 people were injured and another 134 were killed in school bus-related accidents in 2005. Perhaps surprisingly, 70% of the fatalities were not people actually riding the school bus and about 20% of them were pedestrians.
There are strict and specific traffic laws that dictate proper and safe driving in and near school buses. When a school bus has stopped to pick up or drop off passengers and is signaling that it is doing so, drivers going both directions are required to stop. In Missouri specifically, school buses must pass two safety inspections each year, and buses over 10,000 pounds are required to have a front-mounted crossing control arm that extends 5.5 feet from the front bumper. Additionally, it is illegal in Missouri to pass a school bus on the right side. School bus drivers also have the right to report offenses like illegal passing — it’s estimated that more than 50,000 drivers pass school buses illegal each day.
The consequences of not following school bus safety traffic laws can range from fines to license suspension. In Illinois, the fine for illegally passing a school bus is $150, and $500 for a second offense. Passing a stopped school bus can result in a three-month suspension for the first offense and a year for the second — and in some cases drivers may lose points on their license.