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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

Monday, August 31, 2009
Media Contact: Melanie Stokes
Department of Motor Vehicles
(804) 367-6623

Parents Encouraged to Stress Pedestrian Safety to Students
Motorists Reminded of School Bus Laws

RICHMOND - Parents, teachers and other adults are urged this time of year to remind children about safety lessons for walking or riding the bus to school.

"We must ensure that school children wait in a safe place at the bus stop, and that they enter and exit the bus environment safely," said John Saunders, Director of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles' Virginia Highway Safety Office (VAHSO). "I urge all parents to teach and reinforce bus safety rules to their children so they become habits."

In Virginia last year, six pedestrians died while getting on or off a school bus. Nationally since 1995, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of the 170 school-age pedestrians who died were killed by school buses, and 30 percent by other vehicles involved in school-bus crashes, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Nearly one-half (49 percent) of all school-age pedestrians killed were between five and seven years old.

With children everywhere waiting for, boarding and exiting school buses this time of year, Virginia's back-to-school rules of the road also must be reinforced to drivers. Passing a school bus is prohibited when it is stopped to load or unload passengers, unless a physical barrier or unpaved median separates the traffic going in either direction.

Here are some additional back-to school safety reminders for drivers:

  • Pedestrians always have the right-of-way. When encountering a pedestrian, motorists need to slow down and prepare to stop.
  • Yellow flashing lights on a school bus mean the bus is preparing to stop and load or unload children. Motorists need to slow down and prepare to stop.
  • Red flashing lights and an extended stop arm mean the school bus is stopped and children are boarding or exiting the bus. Motorists must come to a complete stop a safe distance from the bus and wait until the bus begins moving before they start driving again.
  • Drivers are required to travel 25 mph in a school zone when indicated by a sign or signal.

In 2008 in Virginia there were 749 school bus crashes, 327 school bus occupants injured and two school bus occupants, both drivers, were killed. In 59 percent of the 749 bus crashes, the bus driver was not found to be in violation of any traffic law.

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