K-12 school season means that drivers in Arizona should be ready to see plenty of students and yellow school buses on the roadways. According to Mesa Public Schools, there were close to 36,000 school bus rides for each day of the 2017 to 2018 school year. With this high of a number of student rides, the chances of drivers getting caught off guard while driving in traffic with a school bus becomes a much greater possibility.

In Arizona, a driver on either side of the street must come to a complete stop when approaching a halted school bus. A school bus’s flashing lights and extended stop-sign arms are vital warning signs. Drivers not paying full attention to the school bus signals and increased traffic carry the potential to cause accidents and serious student injuries.

Sharing the road with school buses

When the bus’s yellow lights are flashing, the bus driver is slowing down so that it can stop and drop off or pick up passengers. A motorist must also slow down and be ready to stop behind the bus. When the bus lights are flashing red, the bus has stopped, and its extended stop-sign arm informs drivers that they must stop their vehicles so that children may get on or off the bus.

A driver may not pass the school bus until its lights are no longer flashing, the stop-sign arm retracts and the bus is moving again.

Remaining aware of children getting on and off school buses

The most common times for children to be actively getting on and off school buses are between 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Drivers must remain especially aware of the possibility of kids darting out quickly into the streets during these times. It is also important for drivers to keep watch for them standing in between parked cars while waiting to cross to get to a bus stop.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school bus fatalities resulted in less than 1% of the nearly 325,000 accidents that occurred between 2006 and 2015. As reported by CNN, however, 102 of the children fatally hit were reportedly on foot. Allegedly, drivers are not always stopping — as required by law — when a school bus has its lights flashing and its stop-sign arm extended.