Back to school means traffic hazards daily

Published 7:27 pm Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Students and teachers heading back to school mean increased traffic on the roads each morning and afternoon including more than 100 buses making their daily routes.

The increased traffic and students crossing roads or waiting for their bus, creates safety hazards that could quickly turn into a disaster if they aren’t handled properly.

“The best tip for the parents that are dropping their children off at the bus stop is make sure that they obey all the traffic signs,” Vicksburg Warren School District Safety Resource Department head Dewayne Sims said. “Make sure they are paying attention to signs for speed limits, kids crossing. I think that is the most important thing.”

In Mississippi, motorists are required to stop at least 10 feet in front of and behind a school bus that is stopped for loading or unloading, when the red lights are flashing and the red stop arm is out.

“Be aware of the buses that are dropping off and picking up kids,” Sims said. “Don’t be distracted such as texting and driving. Don’t be a distracted driver during the school year.”

In many areas of town during school drop-off and pick-up times, there will be crossing guards who are tasked with directing traffic. Sims said that in those situations, the crossing guard preempts a traffic signal in terms of traffic flow.

Another potential safety hazard is when students are crossing the street to load the bus or after exiting. VWSD transportation director Robert Bass said that when students have to cross the road, it is the bus driver who needs to be in charge. Not parents.

“Have the kids look at the driver and his instruction to cross the street if they need to,” Bass said.

“Do not let the parents tell them to cross for safety reasons. The drivers should train their students to watch for their signal. Do not cross the street before they are given a signal by the bus driver.”

Bass also recommends that parents have their students to the bus stop at least five minutes before the scheduled bus arrival time and that students stand in a straight line out of the street while waiting.

During the school day, all cars must be logged in at the two high schools and visitors must surrender their driver’s license and/or car keys when checking in at schools throughout the district.

“We want to continue to encourage, if you know something say something,” Sims said. “If you see something, say something. If you have something going on in the community, make sure we know in advance. They can contact the school directly or they can contact the school resource officers.”