The Winchester Police Department and Winchester Public Schools are teaming up on a campaign to remind drivers they have to stop when a school bus’s lights are flashing, even if they’re driving in the opposite direction unless there is a median. The campaign focuses on the safety of our children who get on and off school buses on a daily basis.
Drivers are reminded that whether you’re driving toward a stopped school bus or following behind one, you must stop when the bus’s flashing lights are on. When you are travelling on a four lane road without a divided highway and a school bus comes to a stop, you must also stop. Examples of these roads in the City of Winchester are Valley Avenue (Route 11) and Pleasant Valley Road.
Those in violation of the law will be charged with reckless driving, a class 1 misdemeanor that is punishable with up to one year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.
The campaign’s message is Don’t Break the Law, Brake for Buses. During the week of January 20th officers will be stepping up patrols to ensure drivers are stopping when a bus’s red lights are flashing.
Children often forget to look both ways when they are getting on or off the bus, and these traffic laws are in place to prevent an accident involving a school bus or the bus riders. Your cooperation can help ensure that our children get to school and back home safely every day.
Code of Virginia § 46.2-859. Passing a stopped school bus; prima facie evidence.
A person driving a motor vehicle shall stop such vehicle when approaching, from any direction, any school bus which is stopped on any highway, private road or school driveway for the purpose of taking on or discharging children, the elderly, or mentally or physically handicapped persons, and shall remain stopped until all the persons are clear of the highway, private road or school driveway and the bus is put in motion; any person violating the foregoing is guilty of reckless driving. The driver of a vehicle, however, need not stop when approaching a school bus if the school bus is stopped on the other roadway of a divided highway, on an access road, or on a driveway when the other roadway, access road, or driveway is separated from the roadway on which he is driving by a physical barrier or an unpaved area. The driver of a vehicle also need not stop when approaching a school bus which is loading or discharging passengers from or onto property immediately adjacent to a school if the driver is directed by a law-enforcement officer or other duly authorized uniformed school crossing guard to pass the school bus. This section shall apply to school buses which are equipped with warning devices prescribed in § 46.2-1090 and are painted yellow with the words “School Bus” in black letters at least eight inches high on the front and rear thereof. Only school buses which are painted yellow and equipped with the required lettering and warning devices shall be identified as school buses.
The testimony of the school bus driver, the supervisor of school buses or a law-enforcement officer that the vehicle was yellow, conspicuously marked as a school bus, and equipped with warning devices as prescribed in § 46.2-1090 is prima facie evidence that the vehicle is a school bus.