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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

Tuesday, September 05, 2017
Media Contact: Brandy Brubaker
Department of Motor Vehicles
(804) 367-6834

Motorists Reminded to Stop for Loading or Unloading School Buses
DMV Urges Drivers to Stay Alert and Focused on School Commutes

RICHMOND – As schools open their doors to students for another school year, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) reminds motorists to be on the lookout for an influx of school buses and pedestrians.

Virginia law mandates that traffic must stop for stopped buses with red flashing lights and a stop sign extended. Traffic traveling in both directions must remain stopped until the bus begins to move again.

Motorists must also stop if a bus is loading or unloading children even if the signals on the bus are not on. The only time motorists do not need to stop is when the school bus is traveling in the opposite direction on a divided roadway with a median or barrier.

Drivers who pass a stopped school bus face a charge of reckless driving, a class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, it could mean up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is beginning to stop. As the yellow lights flash, drivers should slow down, prepare to stop and be alert for children who may step out into the road to board the bus before traffic is stopped.

“School buses are built to safely transport the most precious passengers – children,” said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “Motorists need to do their part to ensure students stay safe by keeping alert for children getting on and off buses and by maintaining a safe following distance from school buses when traveling. Parents can help keep their kids safe by making sure they know how to safely board and exit a bus.”

In Virginia last year, 634 school buses were involved in crashes, resulting in injuries to 291 school bus occupants. Five people were injured getting on or off a school bus.

Here are some tips for parents to share with their children:

  • When the bus approaches, stand at least five giant steps (10 feet) away from the curb, and line up away from the street.
  • Do not attempt to board the bus, or cross the road to get to the bus, until the bus is fully stopped and its stop sign is extended. Look both ways and make sure no other vehicles are approaching.
  • If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus is stopped and that the bus driver sees you and indicates that it is safe for you to cross.
  • Tell an adult if you drop an item near a bus, or any vehicle. Don’t run back to get it unless an adult says it is safe.
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