TPD urges motorists to stop for school buses

Aug. 09, 2014 @ 11:08 AM

As Thomasville City Schools prepare to open for another school year on Aug. 25, Thomasville Police Department is prioritizing children’s safety and urging motorists to keep safety at the forefront of their minds.

“The biggest thing is to get people's attention, especially with school starting back,” TPD Traffic Safety Unit Lt. David Tilley said. “We are going to be out there watching.”

TPD traffic officers will be on high alert this fall for drivers passing stopped school buses. It is illegal to pass a school bus stopped to load or unload children. Passing a stopped school bus draws one of the stiffest fines of any moving violation.

Effective Dec. 1, 2013, a motorist cited for passing a stopped school bus faces a Class 1 misdemeanor. A court appearance is mandatory and a conviction will result in five driver's license points — eight for a person operating a commercial vehicle — and four insurance points, which translates into a 80 percent rate increase.

“The penalties are very severe, and they should be,” Tilley said. “Violating the law can lead to citation, fine and loss of license.

"My advice to drivers: If you're not sure, just stop.”

On a two-lane road, both with and without a center turn lane, traffic in both directions must stop for a school bus picking up or dropping off children. While traveling on a four-lane road without a median separation, all traffic in both directions must stop. Should there be a median separation or a center turning lane on a four-lane roadway, only traffic following the bus is required to stop.

Tilley offered a recap of a few tips helpful for drivers who wish to avoid fines and charges:

• Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm shows that the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off the school bus. Vehicles should be stopped far enough from the bus to allow children the necessary space to safely enter and exit the bus.

• Never pass a school bus on the right. It is illegal.

• Motorists should not block a crosswalk.

• Always stop when directed to do so by a school crossing guard.

• Watch for children at school bus stops.

Any driver who violates the law and strikes a person could be charged with a Class I felony. For more information, contact Tilley at 475-4206.

Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3578, or at kennedy@tvilletimes.com.