Department of Highways, District 10
Drivers Be Aware—It’s Back to School Time; Transportation Cabinet urges motorists to be cautious and watch for buses as classes begin in Breathitt County, Jackson Independent school district
JACKSON, KY – (July 20, 2007) – With students heading back to school on Wednesday, Aug. 1 in the Breathitt County and Jackson Independent school districts, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is reminding drivers to use extreme caution once school buses return to the county’s highways.
“We cannot overemphasize how important it is for motorists to watch out for stopped school buses,” said Secretary Bill Nighbert. “There is always an adjustment period for drivers when classes resume, as they get used to school bus routes and stops that haven’t been there for the past few months. Drivers need to be extremely attentive as they share the road with school buses.”
Kentucky law requires all traffic, both oncoming and following, to stop for a school bus loading or unloading passengers when the bus’ stop sign is extended and its red flashers are on. The only exception is for four-lane divided highways, where oncoming traffic is not required to stop. Modern school buses are also equipped with yellow flashers that serve to warn following or oncoming drivers that a stop is imminent.
“Our law enforcement officials and our judicial system take violations of this law very seriously,” said Tim Hazlette, who is chairman of the Governor’s Executive Committee on Highway Safety and commissioner of the Department of Transportation Safety. “By being observant, drivers can not only help keep our schoolchildren safe, but they save themselves the cost and inconvenience of an expensive traffic citation.”
Many mornings the first few weeks of school are foggy, and the sun rises later each day as the days get shorter. These factors can combine to reduce visibility on the Commonwealth’s school bus routes.
“The strongest piece of advice we can give drivers is to slow down and allow yourself more time to get to your destination if you are traveling while buses are running, especially in the mornings when darkness and weather conditions can make buses and students less visible,” added Deputy Secretary of Transportation Crystal Ducker.
Drivers who are familiar with school bus stops along their normal routes should not count on that familiarity, as the location of these stops may change from time to time. The Transportation Cabinet places signs alerting drivers to the location of school bus stops along state-maintained highways, but not all stops are marked. Parents or school officials who wish to have these signs placed on a state route near the location where children are picked up and dropped off should call District 10’s Traffic Branch at 666-8841 to submit a request for “School Bus Stop Ahead” signage.
Students who live in urban areas and walk or bike to school should use sidewalks, and cross streets only at designated crosswalks. Although pedestrians have the right of way at crosswalks, they should always look both ways before crossing a highway, even at crosswalks controlled by traffic lights.
The Transportation Cabinet administers a Federal Highway Administration grant program called “Safe Routes To School,” which encourages children to walk or ride bicycles to school when possible; to make walking and bicycling to school safe and more appealing; and to facilitate the planning, development, and implementation of projects that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution in the vicinity of schools. For more information or to begin the application process, interested school and community leaders can visit http://saferouteskentucky.com.