Even if you don’t have a child or grandchild in school, please pay attention to back-to-school time. We must do everything we can to keep children safe and you can do your part by following traffic laws about busses, school zones, and pedestrians.
School Bus Safety
You must always stop when you are driving behind a school bus that activates its flashing red lights and displays its STOP signal, no matter how many lanes there are. If you are approaching a stopped school bus from the opposite direction you must stop unless there is a raised median or physical barrier at least five feet wide between lane directions. In that case the vehicle should proceed with caution. Painted lines and pavement markings are not considered barriers.
Failure to stop for a school bus carries a minimum $200 fine. A second offense committed within five years results in that person’s license being suspended for between six months and one year.
If you pass on the side where children are getting on or off the bus the penalties are even more severe: a minimum $400 fine and a one- to two-year suspension for a repeat offense within five years.
Pay special attention to designated school zones as well. School zones will be clearly marked with signage and flashing lights alerting drivers. The speed limit in most local school zones is 15 miles per hour. The slow-speed zone is in force half an hour before students are expected to arrive at school in the morning. Remember, this doesn’t just mean the official start of classes, but may be earlier for breakfast service. The school zone may be active for up to half an hour after class begins. In the afternoon, the school zone is active until 30 minutes after students are released. With elementary, middle, and high schools all starting and ending at different times, you may encounter several different school zones in your daily travels. Be alert for increased traffic and many more buses and pedestrians now that school is back in session. The fine for speeding in a school zone is double that of speeding in most other areas.
It is illegal to use a cell phone in a handheld manner while driving in a school zone. This includes texting and making phone calls. If you must use a device in a school zone, it needs to be completely hands-free. Your full attention needs to be on the road and on pedestrians.
Crossing guards are stationed at high-frequency intersections where children walk or bike to school. Crossing guards enter the crosswalk when it is safe to do so and ensure that children only cross the road when all traffic has stopped. Be alert for the crossing guard’s sign and whistle, and follow their directions.
If you would like a rewarding part-time job helping to keep children safe, consider becoming a school crossing guard. You will receive uniforms, equipment, and training, and make $22 an hour. Contact Human Resources at 727-582-6208 for more information.
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