Safety is the number one priority when transporting students to and from school. Rules concerning when to stop for a school bus loading or unloading students vary by state. In Virginia, a driver must stop when a school bus has its red lights flashing, a stop sign is extended, or people are getting on or off of the bus, no matter what kind of road it is. Vehicles must then remain stopped until all persons are clear and the bus begins to move again. Vehicals must also stop even if there are no lights or signals showing and someone is getting on or off. The only time vehicles do not have to stop is when there is a median or barrier between ones car and the bus.
In Spotsylvania County, when a young child is getting off the bus, an adult must be present or they will be taken back to his or her school and a parent or guardian will be notified to pick up the child. In order to be safer, the county has some guidelines for bus drivers. A few include having the warning sign and the crossing control arm extended when the bus is stopped. If a bus is behind another bus that is stopped for pickup and drop-off, that bus must also turn on its red traffic warning lights flashing. And while stopped, the lights must stay on until all children are safely off of the road.
Rita Stanley, driver of bus 154 for Spotsylvania County students, said that she doesn’t see many people not stopping for buses in neighborhoods where her route is, but Southpoint Parkway and Harrison Road are places where cars do not always stop for buses. When she sees cars not stopping, she sometimes honks at them. Some of the newer buses have cameras that take pictures of cars that don’t stop for loading and unloading students.
For every school in the county, there is a Lead Driver who serves as liaison between parents, bus drivers, and administration. Diana Haught is Riverbend’s lead driver; she can be contacted at [email protected]