Watch for children near bus, school zones
It's that time of year again. Parents are happy (children usually not so much) as school bells begin to ring across the area. For Barnwell County public schools, classes for the 2013-14 year begin Aug. 19. (Local private schools have varying start dates.)
As students prepare to begin another school year, take time to refresh your understanding of traffic laws and safety tips regarding schools.
Bus stops, particularly in the more rural areas of the county, are apt to have children waiting for their bus long before the sun begins to rise so the South Carolina Highway Patrol is urging motorists to use extreme caution.
Lance Cpl. Judd Jones of the SCHP said motorists should also pay close attention near school zones for children on the move. He said if the school zone lights are flashing, the speed in the area is greatly reduced from the normal speed. This is to allow motorists more time to see and respond to children walking and riding their bikes to and from school.
Jones said if you find yourself behind a bus when it makes a stop, you must still stop and wait. Passing a stopped school bus is still against the law and it is dangerous for the children trying to enter or exit the bus.
If you are on a divided highway, such as the four-lanes in Barnwell, (whether there is an actual median or not) and you meet a school bus traveling in the opposite direction, you do not have to stop when the bus stops, he said.
For students, Jones said it is important for children to arrive five to 10 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive at the bus stop. He said many accidents occur as children are late and run to catch the bus.
The "danger zone" around a bus is anywhere within five feet of the bus. He said students should stay at least 10 feet from the bus so the driver can clearly see them at all times.
For those students who have to meet their bus before sunrise, Jones said the SCHP has reflective "slap bands" available. These bands are easy for students to use and provide the necessary reflective strip for drivers to be able to see.
He said parents can call the SCHP Bamberg office at (803) 245-5746 to make an appointment to pick up a band for their student.
"Drivers need to be aware in school zones. Buckle up and buckle up children," Jones said.
Jones said the SCHP is hoping for a safe return to school for all children and SCHP officers will be making the rounds to area schools during afternoon pick-up times to hand out safety literature in the coming weeks to reinforce the safety messages.
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