VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Drivers be on alert as you will now be sharing the road with thousands of school buses in Hampton Roads.
Parents can feel a little less nervous knowing that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are the safest vehicles on the road.
Still, accidents happen.
David Pace, executive director of transportation for Virginia Beach City Public Schools, has seen almost everything in more than 40 years with the district.
Pace told WAVY.com, “One of the big problems in our nation is people passing a stopped school bus loading and unloading children and that’s one of the most dangerous things a motorist can do.”
It’s not just dangerous — it is illegal.
“We do have stop arm cameras on some of our buses, a hundred-plus of our buses, if you’re captured on a camera passing a school bus loading children or unloading children they will get a citation in the mail and that fine is $250,” he said.
Red flashing lights mean stop. Drivers must wait at least 20 feet behind the bus and stay stopped until the lights stop flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn and the bus starts moving again.
Parents can help protect their children by making sure they follow these rules:
- Never walk behind a bus.
- Walk in front of the crossing gate (about 6 feet out in front) so drivers can see them.
- Never bend down to pick up a dropped item.
Pace said, “Because we’ve had students who have dropped pencils or books or something and go up under the edge of the bus. And if they bend down to get it, once again the driver’s not going to see them and that’s very dangerous.”
Local districts also ask parents for patience the first week as drivers and students get used to new routines. There is a chance they could be late.
Many schools use apps you can download on your phone and track a bus’s arrival time.