FCSO Schools Reopening, Don’t Bust the Bus & Slow Down in School Zones
15 August 2017 News
Frederick County Public Schools will be opening their doors this Wednesday morning, August 16, 2017 and the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office will be out in force to protect local youth on their way to school, whether they are walking, biking or riding. This will be accomplished with the utilization of deputies working enhanced enforcement patrols concentrating on those motorists who pass stopped school buses or speed in active school zones.
For the past 12 weeks, a good number of morning and afternoon commuters have probably noticed something different during those weekday morning and afternoons as they traveled through Frederick County. Those differences being the absence of school buses on the roadways and the flashing “School Zone” signs along their route that have been dormant. That will change Wednesday morning August 16 with the reopening of all Frederick County public schools. Buses will once again be traveling on primary and secondary county roads to pick up and discharge students and those electronic signs will once again be flashing during school arrival and dismissal times.
“Folks need to be aware and ready for back to school traffic.” Said Lieutenant Warren Gosnell of the agency’s Traffic Division. “If you are a regular commuter in Frederick County, your travel time and traffic conditions could be changed as a result of schools reopening. In addition to buses being on the roadways again with stops and starts to load and unload students, you will also have the increase in vehicular traffic and pedestrian movements around the schools as parents, and those students who now drive, will be entering and exiting school properties in the mornings and afternoons” Gosnell continued “Another factor will be those reduced speed limits in the school zones and the sheriff’s office strict enforcement of those particular limits when the school zone is active.”
“Don’t bust the bus.” Sheriff Lenny Millholland uses that phrase as a warning to those motorists who drive by, past or around a school bus that is stopped to load or unload passengers. Sheriff Millholland’s statement is clear, “If you bust the bus by running its red lights, you will be given a ticket. It’s that simple.”
Virginia Motor Vehicle Code:
Passing a stopped school bus; prima facie evidence
A person driving a motor vehicle shall stop such vehicle when approaching, from any direction, any school bus which is stopped on any highway, private road or school driveway for the purpose of taking on or discharging children, the elderly, or mentally or physically handicapped persons, and shall remain stopped until all the persons are clear of the highway, private road or school driveway and the bus is put in motion
Any motorist approaching a stopped school bus is required to stop and stay stopped until the bus is placed back in motion. This includes those vehicles approaching from a side or even turning in front of a stopped bus and not actually traveling along the side. This is so that any child that may be coming on foot towards the bus from any direction can be protected and makes the most sense for any driver especially those who are not sure of what they should do.
“If there is a clear path to or from any stopped bus that a child could traverse on foot, to or from a dwelling, you should and must stop period.” Gosnell said. “If you have a positive barrier between your lane of travel and that of the bus, such as a median, jersey wall or guardrail and you are traveling in the opposite direction you may then proceed.” Gosnell continued when speaking about those areas where drivers may be confused over their obligation to stop such as 4-lane primary highway with a center turn lane, further stating “if in doubt, stop.”
Gosnell concluded, “The sheriff’s office encourages drivers to plan their commute accordingly to avoid school zones if necessary or to leave five minutes earlier, before the bus begins its morning run and be out front of it. Our goal is the same as it always has been with the safe transportation of students to and from school each and every day.”
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