A new school year starts Monday, and local motorists are urged to be ready for increased pedestrian and vehicle traffic around schools, reduced speed limits in school zones, and a return to the road of dozens of big yellow school buses.
Clarksville-Montgomery County School System classes start with a half-day on Monday, Aug. 9 and then resume with a full-day schedule on Thursday, Aug. 12.
Clarksville Police will be out in full force for the next several weeks to ensure motorists are following the rules of the road in school zones and around school buses.
“We will be watching for people illegally passing school buses and for speeders in the school zones," said Lt. Vince Lewis, Traffic Unit Supervisor for Clarksville Police. “This is all about ensuring safe travel to school for children, and making sure people slow down and pay attention when driving near our schools.”
School zones are marked with lights or traffic signs, so drivers need to be alert, obey speed limits and avoid distractions. Motorists also must pay attention to school crossing guards or officers directing traffic in the school zones. Drivers must not block crosswalks and must be prepared to stop and yield to children in crosswalks.
All school zones have a 20 mph speed limit unless otherwise posted. Speeding in a school zone can result in a fine and points on your license. It also could result in reckless driving charges, which is a Class B Misdemeanor subject to a state citation.
Motorists should be careful when traveling near school buses and allow for more stopping distance, which provides more time to react when a bus’s yellow lights start flashing.
Here are other key regulations involving buses:
● It is illegal to pass a school bus stopped to load or unload children. Never pass on the right side of the bus, which is the loading and unloading area for children.
● When meeting a school or church bus, if the red stop warning signal lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop until the stop arm is pulled back and the bus motion resumes.
● When overtaking a school or church bus, drivers approaching from the rear shall not pass when the red stop warning signal lights are flashing. Drivers must come to a complete stop until the stop signal arm is pulled in and the bus motion resumes.
● Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop.
● Red flashing lights and extended stop arm mean the bus is stopping to load or unload children. Motorists should stop and wait until the red flashing lights are turned off, the stop arm is retracted and the bus begins to move again.
● When driving on a highway with separate roadways for traffic in opposite directions, divided by a median space or barrier (examples: SR 76/MLK Parkway and Jack Miller Boulevard), drivers in the opposite direction of bus travel do not have to stop but should proceed with caution.
● A turn lane in the middle of a four-lane highway is not considered a barrier. Drivers meeting a school bus on this type of road (examples: Fort Campbell Boulevard, Providence Boulevard and Tiny Town Road) would be required to stop in both directions.
Violations involving school buses can result in a fine and points on your license.
Motorists should expect heavy traffic and delays throughout the school year in these areas:
- Rossview Schools Campus on Rossview Road.
- Northwest High School on Lafayette Road.
- Hazlewood Elementary on Tiny Town Road.
- New Providence Middle School and Minglewood Elementary on Cunningham Lane.
- Northeast Schools Campus on Trenton Road.
- Barksdale Elementary on Madison Street.
To avoid school traffic delays, motorists should take alternate routes or plan additional travel time.