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School buses return to Roanoke Co. roads on Aug. 11

The buses are back for the first day of the 2022-2023 school year on August 11.

Roanoke County Public Schools asks drivers to be aware of all buses and give them plenty of space on the roads, particularly during the morning and afternoon runs.  While following a bus, drivers should be alert to the bus and its numerous stops.   Drivers should permit a safe distance of twenty feet or more between their vehicle and the bus.  Drivers should not only be prepared to stop when following buses but be responsible and obey all laws to guarantee the safety of our children.
By Virginia law, motorists are required to stop for a school bus with flashing red lights that is loading or unloading children, whether the motorist is approaching a bus from the opposite direction or following a bus.  Motorists must stay stopped until all children are clear of the roadway, the flashing red lights cease, and the bus starts moving again.  This includes roadways with center turn lanes.

There is one exception to this law:  motorists are not required to stop for a school bus with flashing red lights if the motorist is driving in the opposite direction of the school bus on a divided roadway with travel lanes that are separated by a barrier or physical median.  

“Please give our school buses space and please stop for our school buses when you see the flashing red lights.  We want to make sure our students safely arrive at school in the morning and at home at the end of the school day,” said Dr. Ken Nicely, superintendent for Roanoke County Public Schools.

Here are some additional safety tips for motorists (source DMV/NHTSA):

•    When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.

•    When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch for children traveling to school. They are unpredictable in their actions, and it is your responsibility to anticipate and react to what they might do.

•    Drive slowly. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood.

•    Watch for children playing and gathering near school bus stops.

•    Be alert. Children arriving late for a school bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.

•    Never pass on the right side of a school bus where children enter or exit. This is illegal and can have tragic results.

Parents of children who may be waiting at a school bus stop should keep the following tips in mind (source DMV/NHTSA & RCPS Policy):

•    Make sure your children leave home on time if they are walking to the bus stop, running can be dangerous. 

•    Practice Safety: Students should be at the bus stop at least 5 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.  Students must be at the bus stop when the bus arrives. 

•    Respect the "Danger Zone" surrounding the bus. The Danger Zone is the 10-foot wide area on all sides of the bus.

•    Children must always cross the street in front of the bus and never behind the bus.  This allows the driver to see the children as they walk in front of the bus.

•    Make sure your children stand at least 10 feet (five giant steps) from the road while waiting for the school bus. The children will then be out of the way of traffic. Have younger children practice taking five giant steps to become familiar with how far away 10 feet is from the side of the road.  

•    Have your children put everything they carry in a backpack or school bag so they won't drop things along the way. 

•    If it is raining, have your children wear raincoats that are bright with contrasting colors so they can be easily seen by drivers.

•    Go to the bus stop with a young child and have older children walk in groups. There is safety in numbers because groups are easier for drivers to see.

•    Practice good pedestrian behavior in front of your children. Walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, they should stay out of the street. If they must walk in the street, they should walk single file, face traffic and stay as close to the edge of the road as they can. Exaggerate your head turns and narrate your actions so your children know you are looking left, right, and then left again.

•    Warn your children that, if they drop something near the bus, they should never pick it up. Instead, they should tell the driver and follow the driver's instructions. If they bend over to pick up a dropped object, they might not be seen by the driver and could be hurt if the driver pulls away from the stop.

•    Teach your children to secure loose drawstrings, scarves, loose fitting or baggy clothing, and other objects that could get caught in the handrail or door of the school bus as they are exiting.

•    If you meet your children at the bus stop after school, wait on the side where they will be dropped off, not across the street. Children can be so excited at seeing you after school that they dash across the street and forget the safety rules. 

Below are some helpful Web sites for more information:

Roanoke County Public Schools bus routes:

DMV School Bus safety page:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) School Bus safety page: