Sunday, December 3, 2023

Every driver can make it a safer school year

Drivers should slow down and pay extra attention as the children go back to school (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of
Drivers should slow down and pay extra attention as the children go back to school (HNNDaily photo/Courtesy of

Being a school bus driver isn’t an easy job, and kids are, as always, kids, so by following a few simple safety tips drivers in Hampton and Newport News can help make it a safer school year for everyone involved.

The simplest rule of school buses is the Virginia law that mandates traffic must stop for stopped buses with its red lights flashing and a stop sign extended.

Traffic traveling in both directions must remain stopped until the bus begins to move again. Motorists must also stop if a bus is loading or unloading children even if the signals on the bus are not on.

The only time motorists do not need to stop is when the school bus is traveling in the opposite direction on a divided roadway with a median or barrier.

“School buses are built to safely transport the most precious passengers – children,” said Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb. “Motorists need to do their part to ensure students stay safe by keeping alert for children getting on and off buses and by maintaining a safe following distance from school buses when traveling. Parents can help keep their kids safe by making sure they know how to safely board and exit a bus.”

So that’s the easy part: but what else can drivers do to help keep kids safe as they head back to school?

  • Slow down and pay attention. Follow speed limits, especially in or near school zones where the speed limit is lower.
  • Watch for children crossing the street. This can be at intersections where there are crosswalks, or even in the middle of the street where kids might attempt to cross (kids will be kids). Also, take care not to pull up too far and block a crosswalk. This can put children in danger as they cross the street.
  • When backing out of your garage or driveway, be on the lookout for kids on foot or on bicycles passing behind you.
  • Remain alert for school crossing guards. Also, watch for cars that have stopped on the street, whether at an intersection or not. They may have stopped to let a child cross, so don’t simply go speeding on past.
  • Don’t text and drive. Taking your eyes from the road for even a second can increase the risk of not seeing a child crossing the street.

Last year in Virginia there were 586 crashes involving school buses, resulting in 290 injuries to school bus occupants. That’s down from 2016 when the numbers were 634 crashes involving school buses and 291 injuries to school bus occupants.

John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

Related Articles