October 5, 2011

Caution: School is in Session – NEWS FOR YOU… from the Iowa D.O.T.

By Debra Carney
Driver License Supervisor
Office of Driver Services
Davenport, IA

The summer season has come to a close, and school children everywhere are back in the classroom. Stay alert for increased two and four wheel traffic, including bicycles, mopeds and automobiles, as well as pedestrians and, of course, school bus traffic both before and after normal school hours. According to statistics compiled by the Iowa Department of Transportation for the 2010-2011 school year over 50 percent of crashes involving teen drivers occurred between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Keep in mind many youngsters operating two and four wheeled vehicles lack experience in traffic situations and
may not react in the manner you expect. Pay particular attention in school zones or anywhere youngsters may congregate.

School buses with flashing yellow lights warn us the bus is preparing to stop to pick up or discharge students. Slow to no more than 20 mph and be prepared to stop. When you are following the bus and the yellow lights are flashing, it is illegal to pass from behind. Flashing red lights and/or the stop arm out indicate students will be getting on or off the bus. You must come to a stop at least 15 feet from the bus. Remain stopped as long as the red lights are flashing or the stop arm is out. When the bus has pulled away, watch for students on the side of the roadway.

The only exception to the above information is when you are APPROACHING a bus from the opposite direction on a road with at least two lanes in each direction. If so, proceed with caution. But remember it is illegal to pass when yellow or red lights are flashing and you are traveling in the same direction as the bus.

School buses must stop at all railroad crossings. It is illegal to pass any vehicle within 100 feet of a railroad crossing. If you are traveling in the opposite direction as the bus, proceed with caution.

School buses have an area called the ‘danger zone’ 30 feet to the front and 10 feet to the sides and rear. This is the area in which students are most at danger of being hit, either by another vehicle or their own bus. Pay particular attention in and around these areas.

If possible, plan your trips to avoid peak school traffic or areas where youngsters congregate. Remember to stay alert so we all reach our destinations safely.