LOUISVILLE (WAVE) - Summer vacation is just about over for students attending Jefferson County Public Schools. Tuesday morning, they head back to the bus stops. So every driver needs to be on the lookout for children and know the rules of the road when it comes to driving around school buses.
"If you're behind the bus you're required to stop, whether it's a two-lane highway or four-lane highway," says Rick Caple, Director of Transportation Services for Jefferson County Public Schools.
Drivers who ignore the law, can plan on answering to a judge according to Officer Carey Klain with the Louisville Metro Police.
"Anytime someone passes a school bus, this is an offense they are going to be required to go to court on. It's not something that they can say yes I passed it, I'm guilty let me pay my fine, this is an offense we take very serious. People are going to have to go for a court date and the judge will decide what the fine is for that violation."
There are some differences between Kentucky and Indiana when it comes to the law regarding buses on a four-lane highway. In Indiana it's against the law to pass a bus that's loading or unloading in the opposing lanes if there's only a double yellow line to separate traffic. That's not the case in Kentucky according to Rick Caple.
"Two lanes in opposite directions headed towards the bus do not have to stop if they're approaching the school bus."
But drivers still need to slow down and watch for kids that may dart across traffic. Caple also says that drivers need to be ready to stop if they're behind a school bus that's approaching a railroad crossing. It's the law for bus drivers to stop the bus and open the door of the bus to look and listen for any train that may be approaching the intersection.
It's not just drivers that need to be careful when around buses. Children also need to know the danger zones and steer clear of those when loading and unloading the buses.
Officer Carey Klain says the danger zones are "on either side, the left and right. That's at least ten feet out around the wheels and then the front and rear of the bus and children should never cross in the rear of the bus." Klain says that if students cannot see the bus driver, then the driver can't see them.
Motorists should plan to allow an extra 10 to 20 minutes to their commute time beginning on the first day of school.
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