Drivers advised to use caution around school buses

Published 4:53 pm Friday, August 17, 2012

The transporting of Chilton County’s schoolchildren must be held to the highest levels of safety. School buses are transporting Chilton County’s most precious cargo and its future. Children are safer on a school bus than any other mode of transportation.

Clanton Police Chief Brian Stilwell advised everyone to be careful around bus stops and leave early since traffic will be heavy, usually associated with the first day of school.

“We’re going to have a lot of extra police out Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to help with all the extra traffic,” Stilwell said.

Also, Stilwell said five or six extra police officers will be patrolling schools beginning at 7:15 a.m. each day.

What can motorists do to help ensure the safety of students riding school buses?

For 23.5 million students nationwide and 374,000 Alabama students, the school day begins and ends with a trip on a school bus. Students’ greatest risk is not in riding the bus, but in getting to the bus or entering or leaving it. Motorists need to be aware of the risks. (NHTSA)

Follow these safety steps:

•When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.

•When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch for children traveling to school. They are unpredictable in their actions, and it is your responsibility to anticipate and react to what they might do.

•Drive slowly. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood.

•Watch for children playing and gathering near school bus stops.

•Be alert. Children arriving late for a school bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.

•Never pass on the right side of a school bus where children enter or exit. This is illegal.

•Learn the flashing light system that school bus drivers use to alert motorists about stopping. Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is preparing to stop and load or unload children. Motorists need to slow down and prepare to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop arm mean the bus has stopped and children are boarding or exiting the bus. Motorists must come to a complete stop a safe distance from the bus and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the stop arm is retracted and the bus begins moving before they start driving again.

Call the Chilton County Transportation Department at (205) 280-2950 with questions or problems regarding buses.