Sunday, September 3, 2017

St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office Warns Drivers of Common Back-to-School Traffic Violations

St. Mary’s County's 2017-2018 school year officially begins Tuesday, September 5. While parents and students prepare to head back to school – the community should, too.
The St. Mary's Sheriff's Office urges residents to make themselves aware of school zones and speed limits throughout St. Mary's County before the first day of school. The influx of school buses and parents transporting their kids to school increases the opportunity for traffic accidents, especially during the first week of school.

Sheriff’s Office deputies will be on heightened alert for residents speeding and passing school buses. In Maryland, fines are doubled for speeding in a school zone or designated school crossing. The law also states that it is illegal to pass a school bus when it displays a stop signal and alternating red flashing lights. Failure to stop for a school bus will result in a $570 fine and three points on a license.

Drivers should follow these safety tips to avoid a fine or points on their license:

• Allow for extra time traveling, and be patient as bus drivers pick up and drop off students.

• Obey the speed limits and be aware of the reduced limits in the school zones.

• Do not pass school buses when flashing lights are activated and/or crossing arm is deployed.

• Watch for students walking on, standing near, and crossing roadways.

• Avoid electronic distractions (cell phone, radio, etc.)

Safety reminders for students and parents:
• When waiting for the bus, stay away from traffic and avoid roughhousing or other behavior that can lead to carelessness. Do not play in the roadway.

• Line up away from the street or road as the school bus approaches.

• Wait until the bus has stopped and the door opens before stepping onto the roadway.

• Use the hand rail when stepping onto the bus.

• If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk at least ten feet ahead of the bus along the side of the road; keep going until you can see the driver when you turn around.

• Make sure the bus driver can see you.

• Wait for a signal from the driver before beginning to cross the street.

• When the driver signals, walk across the road, keeping an eye out for sudden traffic changes.

• Do not cross the center line of the road until the driver has signaled that it is safe for you to begin walking.

• Stay away from rear wheels of the bus at all times.

• Talk quietly and remain in your seat while riding the bus.