Public school begins Monday in Fairfield County and the days leading up to the beginning of school are prime time for motorists to do a refresher course on safe driving habits.
Sgt. Steve McDonald, school resource officer with the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office urges motorists to be vigilant from the early hours of the morning, noting that many buses are running before daylight until school takes in at 8 a.m.
“Kids are precious to us,” McDonald said. “We want to keep them safe so we can get them to school to educate them.”
He urged motorists to beware of a traffic issue on the 321 Bypass. The first few days of school McDonald urges drivers to leave a little bit earlier in anticipation of traffic congestion slowly things down there.
“As parents drop off children at school for the first few times there often can be a backlog of cars and parking can be at a premium despite the district’s best logistical planning,” he said.
He reminds motorists to be patient and to be aware of their surroundings at all times but especially as children begin their school year. Pedestrians, bicyclists and teenage drivers may not be as aware of their surroundings as they could be, so it is up to motorists to keep their eyes open.
In the afternoon there will be a uniformed officer directing traffic at the high school from 3:20 until the buses let out. If people can avoid the area or at least be understanding about delays at that time, it would be helpful, he said. “At all times when out driving, watch out for the unexpected.”
McDonald also asked that parents taking children to school should leave a little bit early because of traffic backup and limited school parking. “The earlier you get there the better it will be,” he said.
In addition to McDonald’s advice the South Carolina Department of Public Safety offers the following tips for motorists:
• When a school bus or children are present slow down and proceed with caution, obeying all traffic laws and speed limits.
• Always stop for a school bus that has stopped to load or unload passengers. Red flashing lights and an extended stop arm tell you the school bus is stopped to load or unload children. Under certain conditions State Law requires you to stop.
• If you are on a two-lane roadway, you must stop.
• If you are on a roadway that has two or more travel lanes traveling in each direction and you are traveling the same direction as the bus, you must stop.
• If you are on a roadway that has at least two or more travel lanes traveling in each direction and you are approaching, meeting the bus, you do not have to stop, merely proceed with caution.
• Be alert and ready to stop. Watch for children walking in the street, especially where there are no sidewalks. Watch for children playing and gathering near bus stops. Watch for children arriving late for the bus, who may dart into the street without looking for traffic. When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch for children walking or biking to school.
• When driving in neighborhoods or school zones, watch for young people who may be in a hurry to get to school and may not be thinking about getting there safely.
Tips for Students
• Always buckle up when you’re riding in a car.
• Always ride in the back seat. It’s the safest place for young people.
• Always wear a helmet and follow traffic safety rules when riding your bike.
• If you ride a school bus, learn and practice the safety rules for waiting at the bus stop, getting on and off the bus, and riding the bus.
• If you walk to school, learn and practice the safety rules for pedestrians. Always cross at cross walks, obey all traffic signs, traffic lights and safety patrol instructions.
• Be a good role model for your younger brothers and sisters and friends, and help them learn and practice the safety rules.