Each school day, school buses carry with them a load of treasure — our children. It’s important for all of on the roadways to make sure we protect them.
That’s why Chain | Cohn | Stiles, along with local and state agencies and community partners throughout Kern County, are urging drivers to be extra careful around school buses. In fact, locally the California Highway Patrol recently conducted an “enhanced enforcement operation” focusing on vehicles illegally passing school buses to improve pedestrian safety. Officers targeted drivers who failed to stop for a school bus with its flashing red lights activated and stop arm extended. CHP officers rode as passengers on the school buses.
When a school bus flashes red lights, the law (California Vehicle Code 22454) requires motorists to stop from either direction until the children are safely across the street and the lights stop flashing. If you fail to stop, you may be fined up to $1,000, and your driving privilege could be suspended for one year. Yellow flashing lights on a school bus warn a driver to slow down and prepare to stop. If the school bus is on the other side of a divided or multi-lane highway (two or more lanes in each direction), you do not need to stop.
In Bakersfield, officers handed out four citations, two warnings, and educated hundreds of motorists, parents, and students on the importance of school bus pedestrian safety, according to news reports. Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
And in Bakersfield and Kern County, we should all be more careful around pedestrians. Last year, 230 pedestrians were hit by cars in Bakersfield, according to Bakersfield Police Department. Police say walkers and drivers share the blame.
Chain | Cohn | Stiles and local authorities share the following tips to make sure everyone gets home safe:
- When school bus red lights are flashing, there is no passing. Children are either entering or exiting the school bus when the red lights are flashing. You must stop from either direction until the children have safely crossed the street and the lights stop flashing.
- Yellow flashing lights on a school bus warn you to slow down and prepare to stop.
- Be alert and don’t be distracted when children are standing at a school bus stop. Children are often unpredictable and may dart out in front of traffic, not recognizing traffic hazards or risk.
- Slow down and use extra caution when pedestrians are present – especially in school zones, and before and after school.
BUS PASSENGERS / CHILDREN
- Arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes early and stand 10 feet away from the road.
- Do not let your child play running games, or push, or shove at the bus stop.
- If your child drops something near the bus, warn them to never, ever, pick it up. Instead, your child should tell the bus driver and wait for assistance to pick-up the dropped object. If a child bends over to pick up a dropped object, they might not be seen by the bus driver and could be hurt.
- Remind children to look to the right before they step off the bus. Drivers sometimes try to pass buses on the right.
- If children must cross the street to get to the bus, remind them to wait for the bus driver to signal it is safe to cross. Do not get on or off the school bus until the bus driver says it is safe to do so. If you miss the bus, do not run after it.
- When walking, practice good pedestrian behavior and walk on the sidewalk, if there is one. If there is no sidewalk, walk single file, facing traffic, and stay on the shoulder as far off the road as possible.
- Before crossing the street: Stop, look left, right and then left again. Cross at corners, crosswalks, or intersections wherever possible. This is where drivers expect to see pedestrians.