Police and School Officials Issue School Bus Safety Reminders

 December 14, 2012

Amherst Police Chief Scott P. Livingstone and Superintendent ofSchools Maria Geryk would like to remind drivers of the importance ofstopping for school buses with red flashing lights. The Amherst PoliceDepartment participates annually in programs designed to promotepedestrian safety such as Operation Yellow Blitz, National Walk and Biketo School Day and Safe Routes to School. The police department alsoworks together with the Amherst School Department and local buscompanies following up on reports of drivers not stopping for schoolbuses.

The penalties in Massachusetts for passing a school bus with its red flashing lights on are a $250 fine for the 1st offense, and a $1,000 fine and 6 month license suspension for the 2ndoffense within 2 years. The fine for not stopping for a pedestrian in acrosswalk is $200. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administrationreports that in 2010, 4,280 pedestrians were killed and an estimated70,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States. On average,a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every eight minutesin traffic crashes.

The Amherst Police Department would like drivers to take these simple steps before travelling:

  • When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.

  • When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch out for young people.

  • Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks.

  • Slow down. Watch for children playing and congregating near bus stops.

  • Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.

  • Learn the "flashing signal light system" that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions:

    • Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.

    • Red flashing lightsand extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped, and that children are getting on or off.  Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.

  • Take time to clear all windows of frost and/or snow.

For additional information please contact Sergeant Todd Lang at langt@amherstma.gov or (413) 259-3000.

Last updated December 19, 2012