WESTPORT, Conn. With the first day of school in town less than a week away, the Westport Police Department is kicking off a "Back to School" enforcement and education campaign that focuses on traffic safety in and around the school zones.
As part of the campaign, officers will crack down on traffic violators, especially those who speed in school zones and pass stopped school buses.
"We are urging motorists to exercise caution, be alert and slow down in school zones and around school buses" acting Police Chief Dale Call said in a statement. "Our officers will not hesitate to hand out citations, but that is not our objective. This enforcement campaign was designed to encourage everyone to practice safe driving and pedestrian habits."
To help raise awareness on school safety, the department reminds drivers of the following: Cars need to slow down and be prepared to stop when a bus has its yellow flashing lights on as it prepares to stop and load/unload children; It is illegal to pass a school bus with its red flashing lights and stop signal arm activated; vehicles may not pass until the flashing red lights and signals are turned off or when the bus driver motions them through; vehicles traveling in the same direction as the bus are always required to stop; vehicles moving in the opposite direction as the bus are also required to stop unless they are on a divided highway; and never pass on the right side of the bus where children are entering and exiting.
Police also recommend that students who ride the bus stay in direct eyesight of the bus driver; get to the bus stop early; never try to get anything left on the bus after exiting; never reach underneath the bus; always follow the driver's directions for crossing the street; be alert to traffic and look both ways; always cross in front of the bus but only after the bus driver signals it is safe to do so; wait for the bus away from traffic and the street; stay away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop and the driver indicates it's safe; use the handrail when entering/exiting the bus; and look before stepping off the bus to be sure no cars are passing on the side of the road.
The police department also advises that parents supervise children to make sure they get to the bus stop on time, wait away from the road and avoid rough play; teach their child to ask the driver for help if the child drops something near the bus; have their child use a backpack to keep loose items together; and make sure clothing and backpacks have no loose drawstrings or long straps that could get caught in the handrail or bus door.
If you think a bus stop is in a dangerous place, talk with your school office or transportation director about changing the location.
Have you ever seen a driver pass a bus with its flashing lights on?
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