KINGSPORT – The Kingsport Police Department has recently become aware of a recurring problem with vehicles passing stopped school buses.‚  This situation has apparently been particularly prevalent in the area of Wilcox Drive at the intersection of Ward Place; however, the issue has not necessarily been contained to that location.

Traffic is required to stop in both directions on undivided roadways and may not pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.‚  The key element in this law is both directions.‚  There does not seem to be a significant problem with vehicles going the same direction passing the bus; however, the traffic moving in the opposite direction often disregards the bus and continues to flow.

If the roadway is divided by a grass median or other physical barrier, then only traffic moving in the same direction as the bus is required to stop.

Following are some general guidelines regarding school bus safety.

School buses are one of the safest forms of transportation on the road today. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, riding a bus to school is 13 times safer than riding in a passenger vehicle and 10 times safer than walking to school. The reality of school bus safety is that more children are hurt outside the bus than inside as passengers. Most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related crashes are pedestrians, four to seven years old, who are hit by the bus or by motorists illegally passing a stopped school bus. For this reason, it is necessary to know the proper laws and procedures for sharing the road safely with school buses:

• All 50 states have a law making it illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.

• School buses use yellow flashing lights to alert motorists that they are preparing to stop to load or unload children. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm signals to motorists that the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off the bus.

• All 50 states require that traffic in both directions stop on undivided roadways when students are entering or exiting a school bus.

• While state laws vary on what is required on a divided roadway, in all cases, traffic behind the school bus (traveling in the same direction) must stop.

• The area 10 feet around a school bus is where children are in the most danger of being hit. Stop your car far enough from the bus to allow children the necessary space to safely enter and exit the bus.

• Be alert. Children are unpredictable. Children walking to or from their bus are usually very comfortable with their surroundings. This makes them more likely to take risks, ignore hazards or fail to look both ways when crossing the street.

• Never pass a school bus on the right. It is illegal and could have tragic consequences.