Safety Reminder for Drivers as School Opens

August 26, 2005
Public schools in Montgomery County begin classes on Monday, August 29, 2005, and that means more than 1,200 school buses will be traveling the roadways carrying about 96,000 students.

Motorists will once again see the familiar red, flashing lights of buses on neighborhood streets and major thoroughfares. No matter where the buses appear, motorists need to remember that RED MEANS STOP. Passing a stopped school bus with flashing red lights is illegal! Each year, about a dozen children around the country die outside of school buses in red light violation accidents.

Last year, 941 motorists were reported to police by Montgomery County Public Schools bus operators for passing the red flashing lights. While no points or fines are assessed, owners of these vehicles received letters from the police department advising them of the time and place of the violation and the fine for failure to stop if ticketed by a police officer. Fines for this violation may be as high as $1000.

The law requires motorists approaching the front or back of a stopped bus to stop whenever the red flashing lights are activated. Vehicles approaching the front of the bus on a divided highway are not required to stop. A divided highway is defined as one separated by a median or intervening space. Painted dividers do not qualify. All others must stop for the red lights.

Helpful Tips for Motorists:
• Buses use an eight-light warning system.
• The amber warning lights are activated 100 to 300 feet prior to the bus stop where children are waiting.
• Use increased caution and be prepared to stop when approaching school buses with flashing amber lights.
• Once the bus is stopped, the red lights are activated.
• Never pass a stopped school bus on the right side.
• Be aware that students may approach buses unpredictably.
• If at all uncertain, remember this rule: When in doubt, STOP.

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