- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Respect the big yellow and obey the red. That’s the message from the state, Charles County Public Schools and the Charles County Sheriff’s Office as we prepare to open the doors to the 2012-13 school year on Aug. 27.
The big yellows, of course, are the 275 buses carrying nearly 22,000 children every school day. School buses travel more than 6 million miles per year, and our first priority is student safety.
The red we ask motorists to obey is the color of the warning lights that flash when a school bus stops to load or unload students. Motorists must come to a complete stop when the red lights are on, and the stop arm is out. This means students are getting on or off the bus.
School buses have an eight-light warning system. School bus drivers give motorists ample warning when they flash their yellow amber lights at least 100 feet in advance as they approach a stop. Bus drivers do not activate the red lights until they are fully stopped.
Here are some lifesaving safety tips for all motorists:
ŸWhen a school bus is preparing to stop, the driver first activates the yellow flashing lights. Slow down and be prepared to stop.
ŸOnce stopped, remain stopped until the bus deactivates its red warning signal.
ŸBe vigilant and prepared to react to unexpected movements of the students waiting for or exiting the bus. Students do not always follow pedestrian safety rules.
ŸBe alert for children who may be crossing the street or walking or waiting close to the street.
Some school bus stops, particularly on state roadways, are placed using an “off-road loading zone” procedure. In such cases, buses pull completely off the traveled portion of the roadway to pick up students who do not cross the road. Buses activate only the right turn signal and motorists may pass the bus on the left.
The only time a motorist does not have to stop for the red flashing warning lights is on a solid divided highway. If a median strip, a concrete wall or any other physical barrier divides the road, motorists coming in the opposite direction do not have to stop.
Last year, in partnership with the sheriff’s office, the school system began installing cameras on school buses to photograph and fine drivers who illegally pass buses with red lights flashing. The sheriff’s office is working to secure and install additional cameras this school year.
Passing a school bus that is loading or unloading children is irresponsible and dangerous. For the safety of our children, we ask you to please respect the big yellow and obey the red.
Rex Coffey and James E. Richmond, La Plata
The writers, respectively, are the Charles County sheriff and the Charles County superintendent of schools.