Each state has laws and regulations governing how school buses must operate at railroad-highway crossings. It is important for you to understand and obey these state laws and regulations. In general, school buses must stop at all crossings, and ensure it is safe before proceeding across the tracks. The specific procedures required in each state vary.
A school bus is one of the safest vehicles on the highway. However, a school bus does not have the slightest edge when involved in a crash with a train. Because of the train’s size and weight it cannot stop quickly. An emergency escape route does not exist for a train. You can prevent school bus/train crashes by following these recommended procedures.
- Slow down, including shifting to a lower gear in a manual transmission bus, and test your brakes.
- Activate hazard lights approximately 200 feet before the crossing. Make sure your intentions are known.
- Scan your surroundings and check for traffic behind you.
- Stay to the right of the roadway if possible.
- Choose an escape route in the event of a brake failure or problems behind you.
- Stop no closer than 15 feet and no farther than 50 feet from the nearest rail, where you have the best view of the tracks.
- Place the transmission in Park, or if there is no Park shift point, in Neutral and press down on the service brake or set the parking brakes.
- Turn off all radios and noisy equipment and silence the passengers
- Open the service door and driver’s window. Look and listen for an approaching train.
- Check the crossing signals again before proceeding.
- At a multiple-track crossing, stop only before the first set of tracks. When you are sure no train is approaching on any track, proceed across all of the tracks until you have completely cleared them.
- Cross the tracks in a low gear. Do not change gears while crossing.
If the gate comes down after you have started across, drive through it even if it means you will break the gate.