Nebraska Avenue was shut down for three hours on Wednesday after a pedestrian was struck by a van while exiting the back of a city bus. The victim sustained serious, but non-life threatening injuries from the collision. This accident highlights the nerve-wracking experience motorists face when trying to drive safely around trucks and buses.
While the accident on Nebraska Avenue involved a city bus, motorists can always use a refresher on the rules of driving around school buses, especially as back to school season ramps up.
How to Drive Safely Near School Buses
In order to avoid accidents like the one that occurred on Nebraska Avenue, states have instituted strict laws around passing school buses when students are entering or exiting the bus. This includes the time it takes for the student to safely walk to the sidewalk after exiting the bus.
If a school bus has flashing red lights and their stop sign is out, drivers cannot pass the bus, and must yield until the bus turns off these flashing lights.
This applies to drivers in both directions of traffic, with some exceptions. In Florida, a driver traveling in the opposite direction may pass a stopped school bus if they are on a divided highway with a raised median, physical barrier, or an unpaved space of at least 5 feet.
In addition, drivers should be vigilant near any bus stop, even if a school bus isn’t around. Children may dart in the street at any moment if they’re afraid of being late for the bus, and may not always look as carefully as they should for oncoming traffic. The onus is on motorists to be careful around these students trying to get to and from school.
What About Trying to Stay Safe Near Big Trucks and Other Vehicles?
Buses aren't the only large vehicles that can be tricky for motorists to drive near. There are plenty of large trucks and similar vehicles that require some care when navigating near. After all, collisions with these large vehicles can be particularly devastating. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has even proposed a new rule to cap the speed of these heavy-duty vehicles in an effort to reduce traffic fatalities.
Regardless of the vehicle's speed, here are some general safety rules of thumb to be aware of when driving around any large commercial motor vehicle:
Beware of Blind Spots
Large vehicles have major blind spots along their front, back, and sides, which means that other motorists must take additional steps to drive safely around these vehicles on the highway, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Drivers should do their best to stay out of a bus or truck’s blind spot, and to especially avoid complicated maneuvers such as merging lanes into these blind spots. If you need to pass a truck, pass on the left side, where the driver is more likely to see you in their side view mirror.
Don't Cut Off Large Vehicles
Be sure to never cut off a large vehicle. Large commercial vehicles aren’t like smaller vehicles — their stopping time and distance is much greater, which means it’s significantly harder for a truck or bus to stop in time if they are cut off by another driver. Take your time and pass with care.
Look Out for Wider Turns
A bus or truck has a very wide turning radius. When combined with its blind spots, trying to squeeze past a truck before it turns is a recipe for a disaster. Allow all large commercial vehicles to take the time necessary to make these wider turns before proceeding, in order to stay safe.
With accidents involving large vehicles, the potential for serious injuries or fatalities only increases, but it’s important to practice safe driving no matter who is sharing the road with you. If you or someone you love have been hurt by a careless motorist, you can take action. Read more to learn how our car accident attorneys in Tampa can help you get the compensation you deserve after an accident. If you are ready to pursue a claim, fill out our free, no-risk case evaluation form today.