School is about to open; drive safely and know the laws regarding school zones and school buses


TENNESSEE: Schools are about to open for the 2018-19 year and police across the state are reminding their communities about laws regarding school zones and school buses.

Police will be watching for drivers passing school buses, speeding and other violations that could endanger students. Drivers need to be alert for school zones which are marked by lights and signage and moderate speed accordingly. School zone speed limits are 20 mph. Speeding in a school zone can earn drivers a reckless driving charge. Speeding in a school zone can result in a fine of $269.50 and points on your license.

Police also urge drivers to:

  • Pay attention to school crossing guards or officers directing traffic in the school zones.
  • Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and residential areas.
  • Be prepared to stop and yield to children in crosswalks.
  • Don’t block crosswalks.
  • The School Zone reduced speed lights will be flashing on the “full day” schedule.
  • The speed lights are not adjusted on half day schedules so be aware when schools are released on half days, the lights will not warn you to reduce speed.
  • If you’re behind a school bus, allow more stopping distance. It gives you more time to stop once the yellow light starts flashing.
  • It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus stopped to load or unload children.
  • Never pass on the right side of the bus, this is the loading and unloading area for children.

  • Meeting a school or church bus – If the red stop warning signal lights are flashing and stop arm is extended, traffic must stop until the stop arm is pulled back and the bus motion resumes.
  • Overtaking a school or church bus- drivers approaching from the rear shall not pass when the red stop warning signal lights are flashing and come to a complete stop until the stop signal arm is pulled in and the bus motion is resumed.
  • Yellow Flashing Lights – The bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop.
  • Red flashing lights – When the red lights are flashing and stop arm is extended, the bus is stopping to load or unload children. Motorists should stop and wait until the Red flashing lights are turned off, stop arm is retracted and the bus begins to move again before moving their vehicle.
  • Driving on a highway with separate roadways for traffic in opposite directions, divided by a median space or barrier not suitable for vehicular traffic drivers in opposite direction of travel do not have to stop but should proceed with caution.
  • A turn lane in the middle of a four-lane highway is not considered a barrier. Drivers meeting a school bus on this type of road would be required to stop in both directions (examples: Ft Campbell Blvd, Providence Blvd, and Tiny Town Rd).

**School Bus violations carry a fine between $250 and $1,000 for not stopping for a stopped school bus. The typical fine is $464.50 and points on your license.




About Author

Christine Anne Piesyk has been a journalist for more than 50 years. Her credits include positions as Editor in Chief, Managing Editor, Staff Writer specializing in education, leisure living, food and arts and entertainment. She was co-producer, writer and on air persona for the Entertainment Review for 25 years. Now "retired," she finds herself working on online websites and as a book editor. In her other life, she is a costume designer in her daughter's company, Gemini Dream Designs.

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