GOOSE CREEK, SC (WCSC) - All drivers in the Lowcountry are going to have a change in their morning commute with school starting back up.
The South Carolina Highway patrol is urging drivers to be conscious of their driving when sharing the road with school buses.
"Some instances when you can pass a school bus and some instances when you can not pass a school bus," Lance Corporal Matt Southern said. "When you cannot pass a school bus is when approaching a school bus on a two lane road, lanes come into play here so if you come into a two lane you have to stop."
On four-lane roads, however, you are allowed to pass a school bus if you are passing in the opposite direction.
If drivers fail to abide by this, they could be fined $1062.50 and six points against their driver's license.
"More importantly, we have to think about the fact that you could hurt or kill an innocent child that's trying to cross the street," Southern said.
When it comes to riding the bus, getting kids on and off the school bus is the most dangerous part of the ride. There are several danger zones around the school bus that both drivers and students need to be aware of.
"There are four danger zones around a school bus: directly in front of it, directly behind it and on either side," Southern said.
These are areas where the bus driver from his vantage point sitting in the seat cannot see children. Southern said children should take five giant steps back from the bus to help the driver see them.
Children should also never walk behind the bus, follow all rules on the bus, and if they drop something near the bus ask the driver to get it for them.
Here are additional guidelines from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety:
Because getting on and off the bus is the most dangerous part of the school bus ride, the loading and unloading area is called the "Danger Zone." This area, which extends ten feet in front of the bus, ten feet on each side of the bus, and behind the bus, is where children are at greatest risk of not being seen by the bus driver.
Throughout the year, especially at the start of school, children need to be taught how to get on and off the school bus safely. Parents should help their children learn and follow these common-sense practices:
- Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. Running to catch the bus is dangerous and can lead to injuries.
- When the bus approaches, stand at least five giant steps (10 feet) away from the curb, and line up away from the street.
- Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it’s okay before stepping onto the bus.
- If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the road to a point at least five giant steps ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you and you can see the bus driver when crossing the street. Stop at the edge of the bus and look left-right-left before crossing.
- Use the handrails to avoid falls. When getting off the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags and backpacks with straps don’t get caught in the handrails or door.
- Never walk behind the bus.
- Walk at least five giant steps away from the side of the bus.
- If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up, because the driver might not be able to see you.
- Students also need to behave safely during the school bus ride. Basic safety rules include the following:
- Always sit fully in the seat and face forward
- Never distract the driver
- Never stand on a moving bus
- Obey the driver
- Speak in a low voice, no screaming or shouting
- Never stick anything out the window (arms, legs, head, book bags, etc.)
- Motorists also need to observe traffic safety rules around school buses. First and foremost, they must know and understand the school bus laws in their state. In particular, they must be aware that it is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that has stopped to load or unload students.
- Motorists must learn the “flashing signal light system” that school bus drivers use to alert motorists that they are going to stop to load or unload students:
- Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
- Red flashing lights and extended stop arm indicate that the bus has stopped and that children are getting on or off.
- Motorists on any highway that has only two travel lanes, one in each direction, must stop for the bus whether approaching from the front or overtaking from the rear and remain stopped until the lights are no longer activated or the bus resumes motion.
- Motorist traveling on multi-lane roadways, which have at least two lanes of travel in each direction, must stop for the bus if overtaking the bus from the rear and remain stopped until the lights are no longer activated or the bus resumes motion, however, motorist approaching a bus from the front, on this type multi-lane roadway need not stop but proceed with caution.