With the school year back in full swing in Westport on Wednesday, Alan Miller, branch manager of Dattco, wants to remind people to drive carefully now that school buses are back on the roads. "People have to adjust to school buses again," Miller said. "When you see a big yellow bus, always be prepared to stop, especially when you're behind one."
With about 50 buses on the road in town, being aware of their presence is important, but being aware of the laws regarding school buses is even more so, he said. "A big issue we had last year was a lot of drivers, driving on the opposite side of the road, weren't stopping for school buses when they would stop to pick up or drop off children," Miller said.
When a school bus comes to a stop and its red lights are flashing, cars driving in both directions are required by law to stop, said Wesport Police Capt. Sam Arciola. The fine for passing a stopped school bus is $460, for the first offense, Arciola added.
As regular drivers need to adjust themselves to driving among school buses again, bus drivers had their own preparations to make.
"In the week before school, our drivers go out with their route sheets and conduct dry runs as a way to get familiar with the area," Miller said.
Though there are no new buses this year, Miller said there is one new driver. And as part of company policy, all drivers are screened by state police and FBI through full background checks. As safety is a top priority for Dattco, school buses receive a full-service check at least every two months. "But if a driver notices any kind of deficiency, it's checked out immediately," Miller said.
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