Five Questions

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Sgt. Jake Mahoney is an officer for Aiken Department of Public Safety.

1. When should a motorist stop for a school bus ?

Motorists must always stop when they are traveling behind a bus with amber or red lights (flashing). When motorists are approaching a stopped school bus with flashing red lights from the opposite direction, they must stop if they are on a two-lane road or private drive. However, if a motorist is on a four-lane highway or a private road and they meet a stopped school bus, they do not have to stop, but the driver should slow down and proceed with caution.

2. What is the penalty for passing a stopped school bus?

Passing a stopped school bus is a misdemeanor, and a driver would be fined $500 or spend 30 days in jail. Instead of jail, the court can require that the person complete community service. A second violation is also a misdemeanor, and the driver would be fined not less than $2,000 or more than $5,000, or (be given) jail time.

3. What type of training does a person have to go through to become a bus driver?

Only a person who has been certified by the state Board of Education may drive a school bus. Drivers must have a physical examination by a doctor before taking the required (driving) test, and every two years after that. School bus drivers are also required to pass a drug test before being hired, as well as random drug screenings.

4. What should motorists keep in mind when children are getting on and off a bus?

Be prepared for the unexpected and drive defensively. Be observant of pedestrians and schoolchildren walking or standing near the drop-off point, or walking along the roadway to and from the drop-off point.

5. How has school bus safety improved over the years?

School bus routes and loading and dropping-off points are required by state law to be designed so that students are not required to cross a multilane highway or multilane private road. Crossing gates have been installed on most buses so that students who have to cross in front of the bus can be seen by the driver, and many buses are equipped with flashing white strobe lights to increase visibility.

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