Know What To Do When Approaching A School Bus

December 01, 1991|By Inez Reichert and Joyce Mays Guest columnists

During everyday travels, everyone encounters at least one of our 234Carroll County school buses.

What are motorists required to do?

The Maryland Motor Vehicle School Bus Stop Law states:

"When aschool bus is stopped on a roadway with the alternating flashing lights operating, you must stop 20 feet from the rear of the stopped school bus and/or 20 feet from the front. You must remain stopped until the alternating flashing lights are not operating and the bus resumesmotion."

Remember, students are crossing.

* Eight-point light system:

Sometimes it can be very confusing for motorists to know when or where to stop. Most of our Carroll County school buses have what is called an "eight-point light system," which consists of amber flashing lights and red flashing lights to protect our students.

How do they work? As the school bus approaches a stop, the driver must put the amber flashing lights in operation at least 100 feet before bringing the bus to a full stop.

When you see the amber lights begin to flash, slow down and begin stopping so that you are at least 20 feet from the bus when the driver opens the door and the red lights begin flashing.

At this point, students are now crossing. Remain stopped until the bus moves.

* Loading zones:

Everyone is familiar with a school bus stopped on the roadway with the red lights operating. But what do you do when a bus is off the traveled portion of theroad and just the right turn signal is operating?

This is called a "loading zone" and is used to protect our students by reducing the possibility of a rear-end collision on high-speed roadways.

When you see the right turn signal operating and the bus is off the traveled portion of the roadway, you do not have to stop. Students are not crossing the road.

Traffic can continue to move. * Changes to enhance crossing safety:

Many changes have occurred during the years ofschool bus transportation to improve safety when crossing.

The eight-point light system, with the stop arm on the left side of the bus, improved the visibility of a stopped bus for the motorist.

This helps, but we need to be aware of the "danger zones," or areas surrounding a school bus in which children may not be as well-protected. This is very important when students are crossing. Last year, all Carroll County school buses were fitted with a crossing control arm to make certain that our students cross 10 feet in front of the bus.

By crossing 10 feet in front of the bus, students are kept a safe distance from the bus and have greater visibility, allowing them to stop, look and listen before crossing.

* Safety awareness:

Safe crossing of our students must be a combined effort. Carroll County drivers receive extensive training in crossing procedures.

Our system educates students before they begin riding a school bus through kindergarten orientation and school bus safety programs. Even with the many programs, we still need the help of parents and motorists.

Safety awareness begins and is continually reinforced at home. Talk about bus safety at home; make school bus rules important.

Remember, safety at the crossing can be realized when our students are protected by the following rules: Students must ride safely and motorists must stop for school buses.

Inez Reichert and Joyce Mays are school bus driver trainers with the Carroll County public school system.

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