As schools throughout the region come back into session, police departments are issuing advisories on proper motor vehicle conduct around school buses.  Please drive safely!

School BusesThe Manchester Police Department would like to remind residents that the Manchester Public Schools open for their first day of classes on September 3rd.

– Please drive safe and be aware of your speed in and around school zones. 
– Be cautious of children walking to and from bus stops and schools. 
– Remember, all traffic must come to a complete stop for all school buses that are stopped for the purposes of picking up and/or dropping off of students. 
– Please cooperate with school crossing guards; their main goal is to assist students in crossing busy streets safely and your cooperation increases their effectiveness. 
– With more parents driving their children to school you may notice an increase in the traffic volume, so please allow yourself some addition time for your commute. 

Here are a few facts and tips to keep in mind tomorrow. 

The most dangerous area for the students is in the “loading” and “unloading” zones … the area around the school bus where students are picked up and let off. It is not inside the bus. Motorists can do their part by stopping for school buses, and by watching for children around buses. Stay back at least 25 feet. Give students plenty of room to be able to see you, and to be seen. Obey our motor vehicle laws … at all times … especially around school buses. 

— More than 2,200 state-inspected school buses travel more than 11 million miles each year transporting an estimated 162,000 New Hampshire pupils to and from school daily. Additional mileage is tallied by these vehicles on field trips and to athletic events. 
— More than 2,200 New Hampshire citizens have passed rigid training and testing exercises to be licensed to drive school buses. 
— The N.H. School Transportation Association conducted a survey to determine the extent to which motorists are passing stopped school buses. During the survey 918 of the State’s 2,200+ drivers reported 1,947 alleged violations for passing stopped school buses. Had all drivers participated in the study for the entire school year, as many as 11,500+ violations could have been recorded in a single school year. THAT’S A DISTRUBING THOUGHT!! 

Traffic StopYou must STOP no closer than 25 feet for school buses whenever the alternating red lights are flashing 
— you are on a two-lane roadway (one lane in each direction) 
— you are on a multiple lane roadway (three or more lanes), even if you are going in the opposite direction. (All lanes of traffic must stop going in both direction!), or 
— you are in a school yard, with no dedicated loading areas. (RSA 265:54) 

The only exceptions: 
“.. when meeting or passing a school bus which is traveling in the 
— opposite direction on the other half of the divided highway, or when upon a controlled access highway if a school bus is stopped in a loading zone which is part of, or adjacent to, such highway and pedestrians are not permitted to cross the roadway.” (RSA 265:54 III) 
The flashing yellow lights and what they mean: 
School bus amber (yellow) caution lights are activated at least 100 feet in advance of a planned stop to load or unload students, as a warning to motorists from either direction. The flashing amber caution lights give time for vehicles going the either direction to slow down and stop. Watch for waiting students who may seek to cross the street BEFORE the red lights begin flashing. 

You don’t have to be seen by a law enforcement officer to be convicted of passing a stopped school bus. Testimony under oath by a school bus driver or other witness that a vehicle failed to stop and remain stopped for a school bus shall be sufficient evidence to prove that the owner of the vehicle was driving and has violated state law unless such evidence is rebutted or contradicted and upheld by the court. (The owner either identifies the driver or is held personally responsible.) (RSA 265:54 I-a) 
The result can be costly. Hefty fines are awaiting you if convicted of passing a school bus with red lights flashing: 
— not less than $100 nor more than $250 for the first offense; 
— not less than $200 nor more than $500 for a subsequent offense within a 12-month period. (RSA 265:54) 
And there’s more:Convictions for passing stopped buses will result in six demerits on one’s driving record, the equivalent of a single DWI (driving while intoxicated) conviction. Depending upon your age, six demerits can result in driver license suspension for up to three months. Since most auto insurance rates are based upon driving records, those with convictions and accidents pay considerably more. It takes three consecutive years of conviction and accident-free driving to restore your safe driver insurance rate. 

Thank you and please drive safe. 
Sergeant Andrew Vincent – Traffic Unit