BACK TO SCHOOL SAFETY TIPS
With area schools starting back soon or already in session, we want to point out some of the regulations that are in place that help provide for a safe environment for school children, parents, faculty, and others and also to provide some important safety tips.
SLOW DOWN: Back to School means sharing the road. School days bring congestion. Yellow school buses are picking up their charges, kids on bikes are hurrying to get to school before the bell rings, harried parents are trying to drop their kids off before work. It's never more important for drivers to slow down and pay attention than when kids are present – especially before and after school.
IF YOU’RE DROPPING OFF: Schools often have very specific drop-off procedures for the school year. Make sure you know them for the safety of all kids. More children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location, according to the National Safe Routes to School program. The following apply to all school zones:
· Sharing the Road with Young Pedestrians
According to research by the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old, and they're walking. They are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. A few precautions go a long way toward keeping children safe:
- Don't block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic
- In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection
- Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign
- Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas
- Don't honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way
- Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians
- Always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way
Sharing the Road with School Buses
If you're driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
- Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you're on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children
- If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus
- Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks
Sharing the Road with Bicyclists
On most roads, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles, but bikes can be hard to see. Children riding bikes create special problems for drivers because usually they are not able to properly determine traffic conditions. The most common cause of collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist.
By exercising a little extra care and caution, drivers and pedestrians can co-exist safely in school zones.
LAWS AND REGULATIONS
ACA 27-51-1004: Passing when stopped prohibited. (a) when a school bus stops and displays its alternating red warning lights for the purpose of loading or unloading passengers, every operator of a motor vehicle or motorcycle meeting or overtaking the school bus from any direction shall bring the motor vehicle or motorcycle to a complete stop before reaching the school bus. (b) The operator of the motor vehicle or motorcycle shall not start up or attempt to pass in any direction until the school bus vehicle has finished receiving or discharging its passengers and is in motion again.
ACA 27-51-1005: Operation on multiple lane or divided highways: (a) For the purpose of this section, “multiple lane highway” means a road with four (4) or more traffic lanes and with no fewer than two (2) traffic lanes for traveling in each direction. (b) If the school bus is operated on a multiple lane highway divided by a parkway or dividing strip of twenty feet (20’) or more in width and if the school bus is on the opposite side of the parkway or dividing strip, then the driver of the approaching vehicle need not stop but shall proceed with due caution for the safety of children. (c)(1) If a school bus route includes bus stops on a multiple lane highway, the route shall be designed to ensure that the bus operator shall always load and unload passengers in a manner that does not require a student to cross the highway. (2) A student being loaded or unloaded at a bus stop on a multiple lane highway shall always be loaded and unloaded in a manner that does not require the student to cross the highway.
NOTE: The only parkway or divided highway within Baxter County is the U. S. Highway 62/412 Bypass (also known as Sheid-Hopper Bypass) in and near Mountain Home. This is the ONLY roadway on which drivers meeting or approaching a school bus that has stopped and is loading or unloading children on the opposite side of the parkway or divided highway do not have to stop.
ACA 27-51-212: Speed limit near schools: (a) No person shall operate a motor vehicle in excess of twenty-five miles per hour (25 mph) when passing a school building or school zone during school hours when children are present and outside the building. (b) This speed limit shall not be applicable upon the freeways and interstate highways of this state or to school zones adequately protected by a steel fence limiting access to and egress from safety crossings. Penalties for speeding in school zone include a fine of from $25.00 to $100.00 and/or imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 1 day nor more than 10 days.
ACA 5-39-214: Unauthorized entry of a school bus: (b) A person over eighteen (18) years of age is guilty of a Class B Misdemeanor if the person: (1) Enters the school bus with the intent to commit a criminal offense; (2) Enters a school bus and disregards an order or instruction of the driver; (3) Enters a school bus and refuses to leave the school bus after being ordered to leave by the driver; (4) Intentionally causes or attempts to cause a disruption or an annoyance to another person on the bus; or (5) Recklessly engages in conduct that creates a substantial risk or creating apprehension in any person on the bus.
ACA 5-73-119: No person in this state shall possess a firearm: (A) Upon the developed property of a public or private school, kindergarten through grade twelve (K-12); (B) In or upon any school bus; or (C) At a designated bus stop as identified on the route list published by a school district each year.
CELL PHONE USE:
ACA 27-51-1609: Restrictions in school zones: (a) Except as provided under subsection (b) of this section, a driver of a motor vehicle shall not use a handheld wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle when passing a school building or school zone during school hours when children are present and outside the building. (b) A driver of a motor vehicle who is passing a school building or school zone during school hours when children are present and outside the building may use a handheld wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle for an EMERGENCY purpose. (also Act 288 of 2019)
ACA 57-51-1504: Use of wireless telecommunications device when driving: (a)(1) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b) of this section, a driver of a motor vehicle shall not operate a motor vehicle while using a wireless telecommunications device to: (A) Write, send, or read a text-based communication; or (B) Access, read, or post to a social networking site.
Paying attention to these safety tips and obeying all state regulations will go a long way toward ensuring the safety of our children and others in and around the school environment.
Baxter County Sheriff’s Office