School starts locally soon. And drivers who pass stopped school buses could face a reckless driving charge

Stop Sign on School Bus

If you’re driving near a school bus, all it takes is one wrong move for a child to be hurt or worse.

With the new school year ready to begin, now is the time to think about switching those summer driving habits to accommodate the return of school buses to our streets. That means being ready to leave a little bit earlier for work or take a different route altogether if you want to avoid getting stuck behind a bus.

“That first week after Labor Day is really busy and we have new bus drivers, we have kids that are new at this, we have new routes,” said Georjeane Blumling with AAA. “Pack your patience when you get ready to leave for work those days.”

Blumling says it’s important drivers do not follow school buses too closely or the bus driver may not see them.

“The driver is paying attention to the children nearby so it’s really on the drivers of other cars to make sure they don’t put those kids or the bus itself in danger,” she said.

Then, there’s the all-important stop sign on the side of the bus.

When the bus’s lights start flashing yellow, it’s preparing to stop. When they’re red and that sign is out, other cars have to stop too. That goes for cars coming from the other direction…even if their several lanes away. The only exception being if there is a median separating the two sides.

Ignoring the stop sign could lead to a reckless driving charge, which includes fines and a ripple-effect that could follow the driver.

“[Reckless driving] alone will get you 6-plus points on your driver’s license. This isn’t a good thing. It basically will take you into a more high-risk driver. That could affect you on your insurance. In some cases, it could affect the fact of whether you can get a job or not,” said Blumling.

So get in the right mindset now and pack your patience.

Remember, some school divisions have apps parents can use to track their child’s bus. They include Virginia Beach, Suffolk, Newport News, Williamsburg/James City County and Currituck County, just to name a few in our area.

Portsmouth is planning to roll out an app later this year and Chesapeake is looking into it too.

Hampton City Schools do not have an app for parents, but their buses do use GPS tracking. Hours at a Call Center have been extended temporarily to assist parents and guardians with questions. Those phone numbers are (757) 727-1079 and (757) 727-1080.

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