School buses do not turn on red because it is considered to be a dangerous thing to do. There are special rules for school buses – some are state law, some are the policy of the school district.
The School District of Manatee County in Florida is in the midst of a pilot program allowing school bus drivers to turn right on red, in hopes of speeding up route times and eliminating a potential back up of vehicles. Jason Harris, director of transportation vehicle maintenance, said he hopes the rule change could save bus drivers 10 to 20 minutes per route. With 150 buses out at any time, the time-savings could be significant.
Harris said bus drivers are already trained in turning right on red as part of their licensing training, and that to his knowledge Manatee County is one of the few districts in Florida with a ban in place. The pilot program will run for the entire 2016-2017 school year.
The district notified parents of the program after several complaints were filed after seeing buses with stickers on the buses stating they did not turn right on red, were doing just that. No accidents have been reported from the adjustment on the rule, and eliminating a rule that keeps buses sitting in one place may actually be safer. Harris stated that the majority of accidents happen when the bus is sitting still and are constantly getting rear ended.
The district will evaluate the data at the end of the school year and decide whether to make the change permanent.