Safety urged as buses prepare to roll

Published 12:05 am Friday, August 8, 2014

School buses will hit the roads Monday morning in Opp and Andalusia, and on Mon., Aug. 18, in the county, and officials are urging motorists to use caution when traveling.

Ricky Messick, transportation supervisor for Covington County Schools, said Thursday that the most dangerous part of the school bus ride is when the bus stops to load and unload students.

“All too often, students are placed in danger by careless or distracted motorists who illegally pass a stopped bus,” he said. “In far too many instances students are injured or killed as a result of these illegal passings.”

Messick said the county schools run 48 bus routes.

According to the Alabama Department of Education, 1,713 motorists were recorded illegally passing Alabama school buses in one day during a 2013 study.

Over the course of an entire school year, more than 308,000 illegal passings occur each year.

Messick offered tips for motorists to follow:

• On a two-lane road, motorists approaching a school bus from either direction must stop when the bus displays flashing red lights and extends the stop signal arm.

• Vehicles may not pass until the flashing red lights and signal are turned off.

• Drivers traveling in the same direction as the bus are always required to stop.

• On a divided highway of at least four lanes, (separate roadways with median) drivers traveling in the opposite direction are not required to stop. However, they should proceed with all due caution.

• Never pass on the right side of a school bus where children enter or exit.

Messick reminds parents to discuss bus safety with students.


and share the following tips with them:

• Arrive at the school bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive;

• Stay at least 10-15 feet away from the roadway while waiting on the bus and no horseplay.

• Wait until the bus stops and the driver signals that it is safe to load the bus or cross the street.

• Respect the rights of others while riding the bus.

Cooperate with the driver and remained seated.

ALDSE Director of Pupil Transportation Joe Lightsey said Alabama’s children are the most previous resource.

“We owe it to them to make sure wed do all we can to provide safe transportation to and from school,” he said.

For motorists who choose not to obey the law, there are stiff penalties.

A driver who illegally passes a stopped bus can expect a fine of no less than $150 and not exceeding $300.

Additionally, drivers who are convicted twice of the violation will have to complete at least 100 hours of community service and have their driving privileges revoked for 30 days.

Each time the penalty gets stronger. On the fourth conviction, the driver will be charged with a Class C felony, punished by a minimum fine of $1,000 and driver’s license suspended for one year.