MONROE, La. (KTVE/KARD) – As students head back to the classroom, the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office is offering back-to-school safety tips as a reminder for drivers. 

“It’s been several weeks since the kids have been out waiting for buses and crosswalks and so forth,” said Glenn Springfield, PIO for the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office.

  “So, when you leave home to go to work, think about that while you are driving through the residential sections, especially if you leave early because all the kids are out that early too. There is no good daylight, so slow down. Think about them being there.” 

And with school zones starting to fill with kids, be mindful of kids on crosswalks, on bicycles, leaving and entering their vehicles.

Drivers are advised to be alert to the school speed limit, which can drop as low as 10 or 15 miles per hour.

“We have deputies in the school zone working with the kids and traffic and also running the radar. Watch the speed and be aware that the speed is supposed to be low for a reason,” said Springfield.

Springfield says using a mobile device in a school zone is against the law. 

“Except if it’s an emergency. Maybe in an accident, or a situation where you need emergency help, you can use the phone or stop the car and use the phone. But, to continue talking like you have, you can get written a citation for using a mobile device and a cellphone.”

Springfield says going around a stopped bus could also cost you a written citation filed by a school bus driver. 

“The bus driver can fill an affidavit and bring it to a law enforcement agency, and have a citation written to that owner of the vehicle, or to whoever leased the car if it is a leased car.” 

So, when do you stop for school buses?

  • Two Lanes: Vehicles traveling in each direction are required to stop when the bus’s red lights are flashing. 
  • Three Lanes: When the highway has a center turning lane with one travel lane on each side, vehicles traveling in each direction are required to stop when the bus’s red lights are flashing. 
  • Four Lanes: Vehicles traveling in each direction are required to stop when the bus’s red lights are flashing. 
  • Divided Highway: When the highway has a grass median or other physical barriers, only traffic moving in the same direction as the bus is required to stop when the bus’s red lights are flashing. Oncoming traffic should proceed with caution. 
  • Divided Highway: When the highway has a center turning lane with two travel lanes on each side, only traffic moving in the same direction as the bus is required to stop when the bus’s red lights are flashing. Oncoming traffic should proceed with caution. 

Remember, staying  focused and diligent could save lives.