Editorial: School’s in session, so drive safely

Over the past few days, parents all over the Capital District have stood on porches and on street corners to wave goodbye to their progeny as they’re whisked off by the school bus. For some, it was for the first time.

The start of school means the return of school buses to our roadways. As such, police and the American Automobile Association are reminding motorists drive with extra care, especially during the morning and afternoon rush. We’d like to add our voice to that call for safe driving.

The AAA figures 55 million kids are heading back to school nationwide, and about 13 percent of them walk or bike to school. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children from 5 to 14 years old, so be extra alert for kids out and about.

Then, of course, there are school buses. On the way to work or to drop off the kids, a stopped school bus might seem like an excruciating obstacle. But it’s best to simply give the commute a few extra minutes in the morning and remember why one must stop for a bus.

If safety isn’t a big enough motivator, there’s the law. Passing a school bus that has its red flashing lights on carries a minimum fine of $250 and a maximum fine of $400, along with five points on one’s license. A second conviction carries a fine of up to $750, and a third can cost up to a cool $1,000. You can even be sent to prison over a conviction. Are the extra few seconds one might save worth the cost?

The law says motorists must stop for a bus with its flashing red lights on, even on a divided or multilane highway or on school grounds. Flashing yellow lights mean a school bus is preparing to stop, and drivers should slow down and prepare to halt.

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