Officials urge caution as school traffic returns

Published 3:00 am Saturday, August 3, 2019

As school returns to session next week, motorists need to be prepared for the return of school-related traffic.

Mike Johnson, maintenance and transportation supervisor for Pike County Schools, urged people to follow the law and stop behind school buses – it could be a matter of life and death.

“The worst problem we face is people not stopping for our stop signs,” Johnson said. “We’ll be on the roads again Tuesday and people need to be aware. Don’t just think you know where the tops are – we have several new stops this year.”

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When a bus stops, it means kids are getting on or off of the bus, and drivers can’t always see a students before they step into the roadway.

“We try to do the safe thing and unload and pick up on the door side, but sometime they just have to go across the road and that’s when it gets so dangerous,” Johnson said. “People are always in a hurry and nobody wants to get hung up behind a school bus, but if that is something that’s a problem in your area, try to leave a few minutes earlier so you can have a few extra minutes or get ahead of the bus. We never get in a hurry; it’s always safety first.”

Unfortunately, Johnson said the schools’ bus drivers see motorists passing stopped buses “all the time,” despite the stop sign and the rule being well-publicized.

But there are other school bus rules that Johnson said the public may forget or not be aware of at all.

“We have to stop at all yield signs,” Johnson said. “Some people may not realize that, but we can’t just yield. We have to stop. We also can’t turn right on red; we have to wait until the light turns green. And when we come to a railroad crossing, we have to completely stop, get all the students quiet, cut off all the fans and all the noise, roll down the windows and look both ways before hurrying across the tracks.”

With school in Brundidge Banks and Goshen, Johnson said the school buses will be out all across the county, so everyone needs to be on the lookout for them.

Troy City Schools doesn’t have school buses, but the carpool traffic will be returning Thursday as students return to school.

Police will be stationed at their usual locations, with traffic increasing during school drop-off and pick up times on George Wallace Drive and Gibbs Street. Troy Police Chief Randall Barr urged residents to take extra precautions during the heavy traffic.

“Please leave home early enough to give yourself extra time for delays or any other unseen problems that may come about,” Barr said. “Use turn signals to let the officers working traffic know your intentions. Always wear your seat belt and make sure your children are buckled up as well.”

Distractions can be especially dangerous when driving through school zones, where children are crossing the street to the school.

“Do not let cell phones, radios or other electronic devices divert your attention away from your driving,” Barr said. “Operate your vehicle within the posted speed limits or slower if necessary. Watch for pedestrian traffic near school zones and on campus at the schools.”