School zone and school bus safety encouraged as new school year begins

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Stacey Tinsley, Bossier Press-Tribune

The Bossier Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana State Police Troop G and Bossier Schools’ Transportation Department are encouraging all motorists to be mindful of school zones and school bus safety as the 2019-20 school year begins in Bossier Parish today.

More than 13,600 students will travel to and from school on Bossier Parish school buses every day this year. That equals to 231 buses on the road making approximately 9,000 stops throughout the entire parish in one day.

On a mission to educate Bossier Parish drivers of the importance of observing the rules of the road when driving upon a school bus. The Louisiana State Police and the Bossier Parish School Board’s Transportation Department participated in the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services illegal Passing Survey in April of this year.

They recently shared the results with the Bossier Press-Tribune.
“In April, 39 states participated with 27 percent of the nation’s school bus drivers (130,963) reporting a total of 95,319 illegal stop-arm passing violations of school buses in the one-day snapshot.

In Bossier Parish we reported 116 violations in one day,” Dave Hadden, Director of Transportation for Bossier Parish Schools said. “This is clearly an unacceptable number of dangers. We all need to share the responsibility of reducing theses threats to our children.”
Hadden added that when Bossier Parish School buses are running multiple routes during the day, please be courteous and allow them into the flow of traffic.

“Please be cognizant while traveling around school buses. This will help us to get students safely to school and home on-time,” said Hadden.
With safety of children a primary concern, patrol deputies will be out and about monitoring school zones in the parish to ensure motorists are being safe and are in compliance with the law.

Here are a few safety tips and legal reminders:

• It is important to allow yourself more time to get to work as traffic may be a little more congested due to school zones and buses picking up children for school.
• Please remember school buses make frequent stops to pick up children.
• School buses stop at all railroad crossings.
• All vehicles must stop no less than 30 feet from a school bus that is loading or unloading children whether you are meeting the bus or traveling behind the bus.
• Drivers MUST stop for a stopped school bus when traveling on four lane or five lane roadways which are not separated by any barriers. You must not proceed until the bus moves again or the visual warning signals are no longer activated. You are not required to stop for a school bus that is loading or unloading in opposite lanes on a roadway separated by a ditch, grassy median, elevated concrete barrier or any obstacle that prevents traffic from driving thereon.
• Pay attention to the school zone speed limits.
• Be mindful of children crossing the street where school crossing guards are located.
• Every school zone is a hands free zone. Often people decide to talk on their phone while on speaker while holding the cell in your hand. That’s illegal. You can still talk on the phone but you have to have both hands on the steering wheel.
• Parents are encouraged to tuck an extra bottle of water in their child’s backpack or lunchbox for the ride home during the summer heat

To find out your child’s bus number, bus driver’s name and to register for notifications in the event their bus runs 15 minutes late or more, go to www.bossierschools.org and click on “Find My Bus.” Fill out the information field and you will see your child’s bus number. Click on the hyperlink and it will list additional information, including the driver’s name, email address and the prompt to register for the Remind notifications.