Slow down -- School is back in session

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Pierre Convers
  • 4th Fighter Wing Safety Office
It's hard to believe, but the summer season has come to an end. Autumn for some means cooler outdoor temperatures and scenic leaf changes - but for younger members of our community it means the beginning of a new school year.

A new school year can be exciting and fun but can also come with hazards. School buses have taken to the roads, so it's important for motorists to become familiar with bus laws to ensure children's safety. Knowing and following the proper procedures can prevent serious injuries to our community's children.

According to the Wayne County Public School's Transportation Department, most school bus related injuries occur when children are going to and from the bus. A stopped bus on a busy road can make the process of boarding and exiting very dangerous.

To make trips to and from school safer, children should obey all school bus safety regulations and respect the authority of the bus driver. They should arrive at the school bus stop about five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. Parents should ensure children wait for the bus well off the road and not do play in areas exposed to traffic while they wait.

The 10-foot perimeter around the exterior of a school bus is known as the, "Danger Zone" where a bus drivers view of the children is limited. Children should maintain visual contact with their bus driver while entering and exiting the "Danger Zone." They should also look for on-coming traffic before crossing the street to enter or after exiting a bus.

In North Carolina it is illegal to pass a bus displaying a mechanical stop sign and flashing red lights, which signify the bus is stopped to receive or discharge passengers. Bus drivers are authorized to report this and other violations to the authorities.

Drivers need to ensure they are aware of bus stops in their neighborhood and those along their route to work. Drivers should allow themselves plenty of time in the morning for delays and extra traffic school buses may cause. They also need to lookout for children walking to and waiting at bus stops.

Motorists should also familiarize themselves with area school zone speed. These areas are posted pavement markings and signs that often indicate speed zone hours. Some of these zones also have blinking lights. In a marked school zone motorists must yield for pedestrians on all turns and when pedestrians are in marked crosswalks. When approaching a crosswalk drivers should come to a complete stop if pedestrians are crossing or preparing to cross the road. Drivers must wait until pedestrians crossed at one lane they past the one they are in before resuming travel. Never pass another vehicle that has stopped or is slowing down at a crosswalk.

The new school year promises to be full of opportunities for the community's children. Motorists should do their part to ensure there is no school bus or vehicle related injuries. By following these safe practices we can help ensure our children are well protected. For more information on local school's safety regulations, visit