In early October, a New Jersey man driving a Jeep crossed the centerline and struck a school bus in a head-on collision. According to the Princeton Patch, the school bus was stopped at the time of the accident, waiting to turn left. The 77-year-old driver of the Jeep was taken to a hospital with a brain injury. None of the 17 4- to 5-year-old students aboard the bus has any reported injuries.
The incident is an unfortunate yet important reminder that drivers should expect to share the road with these large school buses, as school is now in full swing. According to the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the following laws apply to school bus safety:
- Vehicles must stop at least 25 feet from a school bus when it is on a two-lane road and has flashing red lights.
- On a divided highway, vehicles on the same side of the road must stop at least 25 feet away from a bus with flashing red lights. Vehicles on the opposite side of the road may only drive at 10 miles per hour to pass.
- A school bus driver that is either picking up or dropping off students must activate the flashing red lights until every student is either on the bus or clear of the road.
A driver who breaks these laws can face up to 15 days of community service or 15 days in jail as well as a fine of $100. A subsequent offense will elevate the fine to $250 and result in up to 15 days in jail.
A fine and possible prison time is a best-case scenario for breaking school bus laws. Unfortunately, there is a real possibility of striking a child or causing an accident that leads to injury and even death. Drivers are advised to use caution whenever a school bus is on the road.