Back to school is here! At Williams DeLoatche, P.C., we see firsthand the consequences that occur when traffic laws and safety guidelines are not followed. According to a report by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHSTA), autumn is the most dangerous time of year for pedestrians. To help keep everyone safe, we have provided below the best tips for traveling to and from and near school zones and bus stops. Let’s have a safe and happy school year!
Five Tips to Help Keep You and Your Children Safer as You Head Back to School
- Yellow means caution, so take caution around the big yellow bus. Imagine being in a large car with 40 noisy 2nd-graders. Could be a little stressful. Make sure you do your part and make the bus drivers' lives easier. It is important to yield when they are attempting to merge, and maintain a good distance behind them, as they often make unexpected stops. Make sure children know to walk in front of - never in behind buses. Here are some other simple safety rules for kids to follow when riding the bus.
- Speed zones. Speed limits Abide by the limits and keep an eye out for pedestrians, keeping your foot on the brake. Also, remember that school zones are home to newly licensed teenagers who are inexperienced drivers. Speed limits aren't just for during school hours - consider after-school practices, late night football games, and other events.
- Walk smarter. Drivers aren't the only ones who need to obey the rules of the road. A major driving issue is pedestrians who jaywalk, cross at a red light, or text while walking. These are real dangers, especially in school zones. According to the Safe Routes to Schools organization, 33 percent of youth pedestrian crashes are attributed to kids darting out into the road. Remember to be a good pedestrian -- cross at corners/marked crosswalks and in clear view, never between parked cars. Remind your children to do the same (a full list of walking safety tips for students here).
- A different kind of pool safety In its "Six Driving Tips for Back-to-School Carpoolers," Jiffy Lube underlines the importance of wearing and using seatbelts. If you're part of a carpool it's up to you to remind your children/passengers that seatbelts are a must - no exceptions. Not only are seatbelts the law, they save thousands of lives a year.
- Go back to school yourself. Even if you've been driving for years, make time for a refresher course in safe driving. Through your insurer, you may be eligible for a discount for a program like In Control Crash Prevention. Driving basics, such as making full stops at stop signs and red lights and other good habits, should also be reviewed. Remember that distracted driving unfortunately didn't end with the summer either. The national report "Distracted Drivers in School Zones" offers sobering statistics about the effects, so turn off/put down your phone while in the car.
School Bus Safety
In an effort to help keep students safe as they are getting on or off the bus, Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) added exterior cameras to its buses. These cameras capture pictures and videos of motorists illegally passing when stop arms are extended and red lights are flashing. The cameras are activated by sensors when a bus’s stop-arm is deployed. The camera can detect a vehicle passing in any direction and capture license plates as well as the vehicle’s GPS location.
Images will be reviewed by the Virginia Beach Police Department (VBPD) and can result in $250 citations for the drivers at fault.
What is Virginia‘s Code?
Under the Virginia Code, drivers approaching a school bus may not pass if the bus’s stop-arm is extended or its red lights are flashing. Even if the red lights have only begun flashing and the stop-arm is not fully yet extended, drivers are still required to stop until all students have finished loading or unloading and the school bus is back in motion. You do not have to stop if you are traveling in the opposite direction on a roadway with a median or barrier dividing the road and the bus is on the opposite side of the median or barrier. More information can be found here Virginia Code.
A 2018 National Stop Arm Violation Count survey by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services revealed that on a single day across 38 states as well as the District of Columbia, 83,944 vehicles passed school buses illegally. Those results point to more than 15 million violations across the span of a school year.
“This is a national problem, and if we can do something to prevent a single tragedy we will,” said VBCPS Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence. “We hope that no citations are issued. We hope that motorists choose to always stop. It only takes a minute or so out of a driver’s time for children to get on or off the bus safely.”
At Williams DeLoatche, P.C. we hope that the addition of these school bus cameras will deter drivers from not stopping properly for school bus pickups and drop-offs.
If you need additional information about traffic law violations in the state of Virginia, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 757-547-5555. We are ready to assist you!
Virginia Beach City Public Schools
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)