Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Make Sure to Watch out for the School Buses, Police Warn; as the School Year Gets Underway, New Traffic Hits the Roads

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Make Sure to Watch out for the School Buses, Police Warn; as the School Year Gets Underway, New Traffic Hits the Roads

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN SCANLAN

You won't be able to miss them come Monday morning: 945 big, moving yellow vehicles that may add to morning commuter headaches as they stop and start, stop and start all along side streets and major arterial roads.

The traditional arrival of school buses (eight more than last year) is part of the first day of classes for Duval County's 125,000 public school students. And don't forget thousands of parents, teachers and students joining the Monday morning flow as they drive or walk to classes, as well as private school students, staff and families who started heading to their schools as early as two days ago.

The rules of the road say school buses demand respect when it comes to loading and unloading, as well as when they pull in and out of schools. Only four months ago, a motorcyclist was killed when he hit a bus making a left turn into Hogan-Spring Glen Elementary School around 8 a.m.

So, watch out for the buses, said Sgt. Bill Dobscha, traffic unit supervisor for Mandarin and Southside's police zones.

"It's a huge impact on the whole traffic infrastructure because all the neighborhoods and bus stops have that many more vehicles in them. And we try to hit several bus stops and schools and [check for speeders]," Dobscha said. "We hope we don't have any accidents, and hope all the kids arrive safe."

Duval County's two private bus suppliers, First Student and Durham, operate buses traveling to 105 elementary schools, 28 middle schools, 19 high schools, four alternative schools and three exceptional student centers. Seven are in Mandarin: Beauclerc, Crown Point, Greenland Pines, Loretto and Mandarin Oaks elementary schools; Mandarin Middle School and Mandarin High School.

Florida statutes state that a motorist approaching a school bus from either direction on a two-lane or undivided multi-lane road should "bring such vehicle to a full stop while the bus is stopped." The driver can't pass the bus until its flashing red stop sign and stop arm are pulled in and turned off. Passing a stopped school bus is a moving violation and carries a $279 ticket.

Motorists also must be aware of school speed zones, where flashing overhead or roadside signs tell them to slow down to 15 mph in front of a school's driveways and crosswalks. …

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