School bus safety tips - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

School bus safety tips

School bus safety (Source: MGNOnline) School bus safety (Source: MGNOnline)
With school starting back, motorists are cautioned to be especially careful as they travel as school buses will be on the road loading and unloading students. According to the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE), the most dangerous part of the school bus ride is when the bus stops to load or unload students. 

Students are placed in the most danger when a careless or distracted driver illegally passes a stopped school bus. As a result, students may be injured or killed by these illegal passings. 

In a study conducted by the ALSDE in April of 2013, a total of 1713 motorists were recorded illegally passing Alabama school buses in just one day. This could add up to over 308,000 illegal passings of school buses each year, each one with the potential of endangering a students life. 

Motorists should follow these rules when it comes to driving safely around school buses:

- On a two-lane road or street, motorists approaching a school bus from either direction must stop when the bus displays flashing red warning lights and extend the stop signal.

- Vehicles may not pass until the flashing red lights and signals are turned off.

- Drivers traveling in the same direction as the bus are ALWAYS required to stop. 

- On a divided highway of at least four lanes, drivers traveling in the opposite direction of the bus are not required to stop. They should proceed with caution, always watching for children. 

-NEVER pass on the right side of a school bus where children enter or exit. 

Parents should also take precaution in making sure their children know bus safety as well. 

Here are some safety tips for students who ride on the school bus:

- Arrive at the school bus stop no later than 5 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. 

- Stay at lease 15 feet away from the road while waiting for the bus and do not horseplay. 

- Wait for the bus to make a complete stop and for the drive to signal that it is safe to load the bus or cross the street.

- Respect the rights of others while on the bus. Cooperate with the driver and remain in the seat. 

Director of Pupil Transportation ALSDE, Joe Lightsey, said "The most dangerous part of a school bus ride is when the bus stops to load or unload students. We urge motorists to be particularly careful whenever they see a school bus stopping." Lightsey continued, " Alabama's children are our most precious resource. We owe it to them to make sure we do all we can to provide safe transportation to and from school."

The penalties in effect for for motorists identified as illegally passing a stopped school bus are stiff. If a driver illegally passes a stopped school bus they can expect a fine of no less than $150 and not exceeding $300 for the first offense.

If a driver is convicted twice, a fine from $300 to %300 will be assessed. The offender will also have to complete 100 hours of community service and have their drivers privileges revoked for 30 days. 

A third conviction will assess a fine of $500 to $1,000, 200 hours of community service and their driving privilege suspended for 90 days. 

If a driver occurs a fourth subsequent conviction, the driver will be charged with a Class C felony, receive a minimum fine of $1,000, and their driving privileges suspended for a year. 

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