IRON COUNTY--With the school year in full swing the Iron County Sheriff’s Office reminds drivers to be careful around schools and follow the law around school bus stops.
School buses are one of the safest forms of transportation on the road today. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, riding a bus to school is 13 times safer than riding in a passenger vehicle and 10 times safer than walking to school.
The sheriff’s office stated that the reality of school bus safety is that more children are hurt outside the bus than inside as passengers. Most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related crashes are pedestrians four to seven years old, and are hit by the bus or by motorists illegally passing a stopped school bus. For this reason, it is necessary to know the proper laws and procedures for sharing the road safely with school buses.
It is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children. School buses use yellow flashing lights to alert motorists that they are preparing to stop to load or unload children. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm signals to motorists that the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off the bus. The law requires that traffic in both directions must stop when red flashing lights are on to allow students to enter or exit a school bus. Valesano cautions that drivers need to be aware that sometimes students must cross the road to get to their home. The area 10 feet around a school bus is where children are in the most danger of being hit. Stop your car far enough from the bus to allow children the necessary space to safely enter and exit the bus and cross the road. Be alert, children are unpredictable. Children walking to or from their bus are usually very comfortable with their surroundings. This makes them more likely to take risks, ignore hazards or fail to look both ways when crossing the street.
Last year the Iron County Sheriff Office received several complaints of vehicles passing School Buses while the flashing red lights were displayed. Iron County Prosecutor Melissa Powell has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to prosecuting school bus violations, “in cases where the drivers are identified enforcement action will be taken and violators will be prosecuted” she added. Valesano stated “The safety of our young children in Iron County is very important and we take a very aggressive enforcement approach to protect them.”