New laws regulate school bus safety

21 Aug 2013 | Lance Cpl. Joshua W. Grant

With the beginning of school quickly approaching, familiar yellow school buses will soon make their way through Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune streets. To ensure the children’s safety, regulations have been set to guarantee drivers are aware of the laws.

Base order 5560.2N states it is unlawful for any driver to pass a stopped school bus. Also, drivers need to be aware of bus signals.


Yellow caution lights indicate the bus will stop in the next 50 to 75 feet. Red lights on the front and rear of the bus, as well as a flashing stop sign on the side of the bus, mean the bus is completely stopped and drivers on either side of the road must stop.


Consequences for passing a stopped school bus include a four point penalty on a person’s driver’s license and a 90-day driving restriction on base and removal of base sticker during the time of restriction.


Drivers could also face a longer penalty or non-judicial punishment from their command, said John Abney, the traffic safety manager for Camp Lejeune.


“The most important thing is to not become complacent, especially in areas with a lot of school bus traffic,” said Abney. “There are special speed limits in bus stop areas for a reason, and the presence of special road signs are indications of prior incidents.”


For larger roads in the local area, motorists are still required to stop if all the lanes are connected by pavement, but if there is a solid median, such as a barrier or grass, the oncoming lane does not need to stop for the bus, Abney added. Drivers should also stay eight seconds behind the bus in case of sudden stops.


Due to the vast array of construction aboard the base and in housing areas, all children who previously walked to school will now be required to ride the bus. Due to the increase, an additional 30 percent of school buses will be added.


“If there’s a construction zone in the area or on the walk path normally used for kids to get to school, they should not go through it, because the areas are extremely dangerous with the equipment and work taking place,” said Abney.


For areas where children have to walk to bus stops, marked cross walks and crossing guards ensure the safety of both kids and drivers.


Children are often more educated than drivers because of constant education on safety, Abney added.


Despite the education, kids should behave on the bus. It’s most important for children to stay in their seats because there is usually only the bus driver to keep the kids safe, said Julie Fulton, Camp Lejeune school liaison.


“Parents with children should also remember school buses are a privilege not a right. If a kid misbehaves on the bus, they can be suspended or permanently removed from the bus,” said Fulton.


Bus drivers teach kids the rules of the bus, but it’s up to drivers to know the rules of the road to keep everyone safe.


For more information on bus schedules and pickup locations parents should contact their child’s school.


They can also call the transportation office at 451-2554.

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