SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois State Police (ISP) reminds motorists that the arrival of September means school buses will be returning to the roads carrying children to school. Since school buses must meet more Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards than any other type of motor vehicle, they are the safest motor vehicles on the road.
When comparing the number of fatalities of children ages 5 through 18 during "normal school transportation hours" during the 1989 - 1999 school years, buses were 87 times safer than passenger cars, light trucks, and vans. Nevertheless, parents are encouraged to teach their youngsters these rules for getting on and off a school bus:
- When waiting for the bus, stay away from traffic and avoid roughhousing or other behavior that can lead to carelessness. Do not stray onto streets, alleys, or private property.
- Line up away from the street or road as the school bus approaches. Wait until the bus has stopped and the door opens before stepping onto the roadway.
- Use the hand rail when stepping onto the bus.
- When on the bus, find a seat and sit down. Loud talking or other noise can distract the bus driver. Never put head, arms, or hands out the window.
- Keep the aisles clear. Books or bags are tripping hazards and can block the way in the event of an emergency.
- Before you reach your stop, get ready to leave by getting your books and belongings together.
- At your stop, wait for the bus to stop completely, then get up from your seat, walk to the front door and exit, using the hand rail.
- If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk at least ten feet ahead of the bus along the side of the road until you can turn around and see the driver and the driver can see you. Wait for a signal from the driver before beginning to cross, and when the driver signals, walk across the road, keeping an eye out for sudden traffic changes.
- Do not cross the center line of the road until the driver has signaled that it is safe for you to do so.
- Stay away from the rear wheels of the bus at all times.
Parents should also review with their children the correct way to cross the street:
- Youngsters should always stop at the curb or the edge of the road and look left, then right, and then left again before crossing. They should continue looking in this manner until they are safely across.
- If a student's vision is blocked by a parked car or other obstacle, they should move to where drivers can see them and they can see other vehicles, then stop and look left-right-left again.
Motorists are also reminded that officers strictly enforce school bus laws which state:
- It is unlawful for a driver to pass a school bus that has stopped to load or unload children when the signal arm is extended.
- The driver is required to stop the vehicle before passing the school bus from either direction. An exception is if the driver is on a highway with four or more lanes with at least two lanes of traffic in either direction. If the driver is going in the opposite direction of the bus, they do not have to stop.
- Motorists convicted of passing a stopped school bus will have their driver's license suspended for three months for the first offense and one year for the second, if the second conviction occurs within five years.
- The fine for a first conviction is $150 and $500 for a second or subsequent conviction.
- Illinois law also states that a driver arrested for speeding in a school zone must appear in court and face a minimum fine of $150.
- The fine for a second or subsequent violation of the law is $300.
- The speed limit in school zones when students are present is 20 mph.