August 8, 2011
In Fluvanna County, school starts on Tuesday and soon all over the area the roads will be flooded with big yellow buses. A new school year means new bus routes and new teen drivers who are driving to school for the first time. For this week's segment of Street Safe Teens CBS19's Bailey Disselkoen highlights the ABC's of school bus safety.
Getting on and off the bus sounds harmless, but it can actually be very dangerous for students, especially if other drivers are not paying attention.
"Passing a school bus could be a child's life you are going to take," said Corporal Sean Hackney, with the Albemarle County Police Department.
"There could at any point be students running to try to catch the bus, you never know when kids may run across the road unexpectedly," said William Deane, the Assistant Director of the Albemarle County Transportation Department.
When coming up behind a bus, if you see yellow flashing lights you should slow down. When they switch to red, you need to stop.
"Just like at an intersection you need to stop," said Hackney.
The same goes if you are on the other side of a double yellow line, a painted median or in a parking lot.
If there is a median between you and a school bus, you do not need to stop by law, but you should still move slowly and watch out for students.
"They are so excited, the last thing they are thinking about is a car, so you need to think for them," said Hackney.
Hackney says passing a school bus is reckless driving and a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
On July 1, a new law went into effect closing a loophole that defense attorneys have been using for years to get clients dismissed if they pass a school bus that is letting off students. The law that was updated in the 1970's reads:
"A person is guilty of reckless driving who fails to stop, when approaching from any direction, (at) any school bus which is stopped..."
The word "at" was missing, and the word "person" didn't indicate that person was a driver. Now, if you pass a school bus that is letting off students, you could get a $2,500 fine, 4 points on your driver's license and even a year in jail.