IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN!
With this heat in full swing it is hard to imagine going back to school for some of our students here at The Next Street. Those lazy summer days are coming to a close, however, and with a fresh batch of newly licensed drivers on the road alongside the regular crush of traffic, everyone could do with some review on the laws that pertain to back-to-school safety.
Why school buses are a unique beast
School bus safety is important. They are nothing like a standard passenger vehicle and they are only remotely similar to a city bus. Unlike their urban cousins, school buses have flashing red lights and a stop sign-style traffic control arm. In nearly every situation where you might encounter a bus using these tools, you must yield the right of way to them! They are disembarking (often very young) students who might be crossing the road and posing a dire traffic hazard. When doing this, keep at least 10 feet between your car and a bus letting kids off.
Two common situations might prove confusing when dealing with school buses:
- Disembarking students on a side road to the road you are traveling along
- Disembarking students on the opposite side of a divided road
In the first instance, you must yield, even though the bus isn’t technically on the road you are on. In the latter situation you do not have to yield, but still must remain cautious in case something unexpected happens. Also, never pass a bus with its stop arm out and lights flashing! You could run someone over!
Pedestrians: do we ALWAYS have to yield?
Yes! Of course you do! As a general rule, you must always yield to pedestrians in the roadway, even if they are not in a painted crosswalk. If you hit a J-walker, you are at fault. Every street corner in Connecticut is considered a crosswalk, and it is legal to cross the street if the one you are crossing has a green light in the direction that you are walking. And don't forget to watch out for those kids waiting for the bus. They aren't always hugging the curb as tightly as they should - especially the little ones!
What to do with that pentagonal sign?
You know you are in a school zone when you see a pentagonal sign with two pedestrians painted on it. This differs from the regular crosswalk sign with its shape as well as symbol, but many people miss this. School zone speed limits are always 25mph unless otherwise posted, even if the road you are traveling along has a higher limit, and even if school isn’t currently in session (there is always somebody there, be it a football team, custodians, or administrative staff!) It is very important that you take these rules to heart, because if you are caught by the police in a school zone doing something you shouldn’t have, all fines are doubled.
LET'S WRAP IT UP AND GET YOU BACK TO SCHOOL!
- Yield to buses with their stop arms out and lights flashing
- Yield to buses disembarking students at intersecting side roads
- When yielding, keep at least 10 feet away from the bus itself
- You DO NOT have to yield to a bus disembarking students on the opposite side of a divided street (road with any kind of medium), but you should remain vigilant in case someone does attempt to cross
- You must always yield to pedestrians because they are exceptionally vulnerable
- If you hit a Jay-walker, you are at fault
- Every street corner in Connecticut is considered a crosswalk, and it is legal to cross the street if the one you are crossing has a green light in the direction that you are walking.
- School zone crossing signs are pentagonal with an image of two pedestrians
- School zone speed limits are 25mph unless otherwise posted, and this is always in effect regardless of if school is in session or not
- All fines are doubled in school zones
Hopefully this refresher will prepare you for the school year ahead, and will keep our roads safe for many more back to school seasons!
In the meantime...
Are you the parent of a 16 year old wanting to get their license? Check out our New Driver Resource for Parents!
Are you a teen ready to get started on the road to your license? First step is obtaining your permit! Our free eBook will guide you through the entire process, step by step!