For the majority of the year, motorists share the road with those big yellow buses. And, while they may slow down traffic, and seem like a nuisance, it's important to remember that they're carrying precious cargo. There are many safety tips and reminders car rental customers should follow when they encounter a school bus on the road. Most countries, states, and provinces have very strict laws surrounding school buses and other motor vehicles. Here are some safety tips to remember when sharing the road with school buses:
Stop Ahead! Leave Some Room
School buses make frequent stops. It is law in most areas for school buses to stop at all railway crossings. For this reason, it's important to leave a substantial gap between your independent car rental vehicle, and the bus ahead of you. School buses will stop at railway crossings, in town, on highways, and anywhere else they encounter them.
Even more unexpected for car rental drivers can be the frequent stops a school bus makes to drop off and pick up children. School buses can stop at any point along a road, even when they are not in front of a house. When a school bus stops and puts on its flashing red lights, it is mandatory that you stop, leave sufficient space between vehicles, wait for the lights to disengage and watch for the bus to resume driving. If you're in a hurry and want to pass, wait until it is safe to do so on a stretch of road that allows passing, and never pass a school bus while it is stopped to load or unload.
Respect the Lights and Signs
When a school bus has its stop sign outstretch, crossing arm activated, or lights flashing, you need to stop and respect the rules of the road. Even if you are headed in the opposite direction on a multi-lane highway, it is required by law that you stop and wait for pedestrians to unload or cross, and that you do not proceed in your car rental until the lights and signs are disengaged. The only exception to this, in most areas, is on highways divided by a standing median; traffic coming in the other direction is not required to stop. When you see the lights and signs, passing is illegal, and often comes with heavy fines. So slow down, be prepared to stop, respect the flashing lights, and help keep the youth, and yourself, safe.
Other School Bus Safety Tips for Car Rental Drivers
School buses are hard to miss. They're big, they're yellow and they have reflected stickers, flashing lights, and warning messages written on them. For car rental drivers, this means a few things. First, the size of a school bus restricts its manoeuvrability. School buses take longer to stop, especially in adverse weather. They also tend to travel at lower rates of speed on major highways, they make constant stops, and they make wider turns. When approaching a school bus from either direction, use extra caution. If a school bus turns in front of you, it will take longer for the bus to leave your lane. If a bus is making a right turn, they may swing wider into the intersection. Similarly, bus drivers have large blind spots and rely heavily on the use of their mirrors. As you're driving, if you cannot see the bus driver in one of the bus' mirrors, odds are, they can't see you either.
School buses typically have lower incident rates on highways and roads than other vehicles. This is not a fluke. It's because school bus drivers are highly trained in defensive driving, and other drivers on the road respect school buses. These buses carry children to and from school, sporting games, and other destinations each day. Slow down, use extra caution, and do your part to protect the passengers on board the school bus, and in your own car rental vehicle.