The advent of a new school year means around 31,220 Stafford County public school students and 4,360 staff are on county roads in buses and cars. If you add the students and staff traveling to private schools, it quickly becomes clear that many children and the people who work with them travel back and forth to schools. Cautious driving should be paramount to everyone on the roads. Following established Virginia laws regarding buses and watching out for children on foot can help mitigate accidents.
Buses vs. Cars
Statistics show that students riding a school bus versus a vehicle are more likely to arrive at school safely. Did you know school buses are the most highly regulated vehicles on the road? They are highly visible with their yellow color, flashing red lights and stop-sign arms. Even without seatbelts, the National Highway Safety Administration says school buses have strong, closely-spaced seats with energy-absorbing seat backs to protect students from crashes; plus, passengers experience much less crash force on a school bus than other vehicles.
Virginia Laws Regarding School Buses
Virginia Motorists are required to:
- Stop for stopped school buses with flashing red lights and an extended stop sign when approaching from any direction;
- Remain stopped until everyone is clear and the bus starts moving again;
- Stop whenever the bus is loading or unloading passengers, even if the lights and stop sign are not activated.
Students on Foot
Motorists should look closely for students on foot or bicycling in neighborhoods, near bus stops, in driveways and around schools. When you back out of your driveway, keep a close eye on the road behind you. Obey the speed limit in school zones. Be extra careful if there are no sidewalks in a neighborhood. Most school bus incidents happen when students are travel to the bus stop or get off the bus. Train your children to make sure they can see the bus driver and the driver sees them. Students waiting on the bus should stand at least five giant steps (10 feet) away from the curb and the street. When crossing in front of a bus, make sure the student walks five giant steps in front of the bus.
Stafford County wishes all local students a wonderful first week back for the 2023-2024 school year!