As students return to school, Kentucky drivers are being reminded of the laws that apply to keep students safe.
The first thing is to note the reduced speed in and around schools. School zones are designed to slow drivers down when children are likely to be present and drivers should heed posted speed limits.
The next thing drivers should be aware of is the laws that exist when approaching a school bus. The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) and the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) have teamed up to help educate the public regarding school bus passing laws.
Each year drivers illegally pass school buses that are loading or unloading students – with some drivers passing on the right side of the bus where students are often present. According to crash reports, more students are injured getting on or off the bus than at any other time during the bus ride.
When drivers see the yellow flashing lights on the bus, that means the bus is going to stop. Drivers should stop too, and not rush to pass the bus. Red flashing lights mean the bus is stopped to load or unload students. Drivers should stop, wait, and not move until the bus moves. In 2020, there were 129 total collisions involving a school bus, resulting in 53 injuries and zero fatalities.
“Laws are not the same in each state and it is important to educate the public of what Kentucky laws are,” said Elisa Hanley, Pupil Transportation Branch Manager at KDE. “Nationally, illegal passing is a problem and education is a big part of the solution.”
To educate drivers on the laws governing bus safety on various road configurations, KDE and KOHS have produced a variety of resources that are free to download.
“Our goal is for each student to get to school and home safely – not just at the start of school, but every day,” Hanley said. “It is imperative that drivers use extreme caution around schools and buses to keep all of our students safe.”