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Stop For School Buses; Slow Down In School Zones

Klamath County students start school this week and school buses will be back on neighborhood streets and highways. To keep them safe, drivers need to remember to stop for school buses and be aware of children walking along roadways and crossing streets.

Every year, drivers who disobey the yellow and red flashing lights of school buses put children at risk.

“It happens daily,” said Shawn Snoozy, transportation supervisor for the Klamath County School District. “In some cases, I think drivers are naïve to the law.”

The law states that drivers coming from both directions need to stop for school buses with red flashing lights, and cannot continue until the lights are turned off. Drivers must stop in both directions even if it is a four-lane road with two lanes in either direction.

School bus drivers start flashing yellow lights 200 feet before a bus stop, indicating to other drivers to slow down and be cautious. Once the bus door opens, the red flashing lights and a stop sign that unfolds are automatically triggered.

Unlike red flashing traffic signals – which drivers treat like a stop sign – red flashing school bus lights mean stop – and stay stopped — until the lights are turned off and the bus starts moving again.

“When you see the yellow lights, you need to be really cautious,” Snoozy said. “Slow down, don’t speed up. If the bus is stopped, you should be stopped. And you need to stay stopped until red flashing bus lights turn off and the stop sign folds in.

“Even then proceed with caution,” he added. “Even if the lights are off, a kid might be running to catch the bus or students might run back to the bus because they left something.”

The most troublesome areas are busy thoroughfares such Homedale Road, Shasta Way and Summers Lane. Because of the rural and widespread geography of the county school district, bus routes and stops also are on highways, including 97, 140 and 39.

Snoozy encourages parents and other adults who take or pick up students from bus stops to help keep them safe.

Make sure students have their supplies stowed safety in their backpacks or bags, he said. A student who drops something often will dart back into a traffic lane to retrieve it. Also, Snoozy encourages parents to make sure an adult meets a younger child at the bus stop to make sure they cross safely.

“Parents need to education their kids to follow the directions of the bus driver and watch until the driver signals it’s safe to cross,” he said. “When they get off, they are supposed to stand in front of the bus until the driver signals it’s safe to cross. But kids often don’t do that.”

QUICK FACTS:

Oregon school bus laws

  • Yellow lights: Prepare to stop. Slow down. Do not pass the bus.
  • Red lights: Stop. Drivers coming from both directions must stop. Do not pass the bus when the lights are flashing. When the lights turn off, proceed with caution. Be on the lookout for children near the road.
  • Remember: It is against the law to not stop for a school bus with flashing red lights. Law enforcement will issue warnings or citations to drivers who are caught or reported.

School Zones

  • Oregon state law requires drivers to go no faster than 20 mph in school zone between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays. Watch for the signs near schools. Drivers also need to watch for youth who are bicycling or walking to schools. Many area roads do not have sidewalks.

Tips for parents:

  • Arrive at the bus stop five minutes ahead of time
  • Keep your student’s belongings safety stowed in a backpack or bag.
  • Watch for the bus driver’s signal before crossing the road.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street.

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