08/24/05 — Officials remind drivers of bus rules

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Officials remind drivers of bus rules

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 24, 2005 1:45 PM

With schools across the county being back in session this week comes the need for motorists to be more mindful of road safety.

The start of school means families will be adjusting schedules to make sure everyone gets out the door on time. Morning and afternoon traffic patterns will also be affected by the reappearance of more school buses on the roadways.

School officials urge drivers to exercise caution during the transition period. Bus drivers will be learning new routes and youngsters are adjusting to new schedules and safety rules like looking both ways before crossing the street and not darting out into traffic.

Wayne County Public Schools' transportation department officials say bus drivers have been training all summer in preparation for the new school year. Parents would also be wise to review bus safety rules with their children.

But for motorists who might have grown used to roadways devoid of school buses over the summer, it is important to allow time to and from work for slower-moving vehicles and to become familiar with bus stop procedures.

The school system's transportation department offered several suggestions on how buses operate:

*When a bus approaches a stop to pick up or drop off a child, the bus driver signals motorists by activating the amber warning lights 300 feet in advance of the passenger stop. Drivers should not pass a school bus while it has its amber lights flashing.

"I'd like to remind all motorists that passing a stopped school bus is not only a traffic violation, but is a dangerous situation for children who are waiting to board the bus," Transportation Director Raymond Smith said. "Many children across the country are killed each year by motorists who fail to stop."

*After turning on the warning lights, the bus driver stops 15 feet short of where passengers are waiting. After checking traffic, the bus driver opens the door and watches students as they make their way onto the bus. The driver then closes the door and again checks traffic.

Drivers are not to release the stop sign arm until all students are either on the bus or well off the roadway on their side of the street or highway. A bus driver must always check the passenger mirrors before leaving a passenger stop.

*If the driver cannot account for each child at the stop, he has been trained not to move the bus until checking around and under the bus. When safe, the driver proceeds with the route.

It is important to understand that these safety precautions and procedures take time for bus drivers and may delay motorists' commuting time, Smith said.