Students in Johnson City and Washington County will be returning to classes this week. City students will begin the new school year with a half-day Monday, and county students will start with a half-day Tuesday.
The first day of school can be both exciting and frightening for a student regardless of whether he or she is a first grader or a senior in high school. This day often finds students preoccupied with seeing old friends, making new ones and trying to get where they need to be.
It’s for these reasons we remind motorists to be cautious around school zones this week and whenever classes are in session. Drivers need to be particularly careful in neighborhoods where students are walking to and from school.
As Press staff writer Becky Campbell reported in Friday’s paper, local law enforcement officials will be keeping an eye out this week for drivers who speed through school zones or who fail to properly stop for a school bus while it is picking up or dropping off students.
Drivers should familiarize themselves with where school zones and bus stops are located and then make sure they slow down and come to a complete stop at all intersections they encounter while passing through those areas. Drivers also should stay alert (that means no talking or texting on cell phones) near playgrounds and other areas where children are present — paying special attention during the morning and afternoon hours while children are coming to and from school.
There are other things drivers can do to help keep schoolchildren safe, such as reporting drivers who fail to heed traffic laws pertaining to stopped school buses. School buses are equipped with red flashing lights and a “stop” arm for a reason. These devices tell approaching drivers that children are getting on or off the bus.
Tennessee law requires motorists to come to a complete stop for a stopped school bus and remain stopped until the bus retracts its warning arm. Failure to do so is punishable by a $100 fine and court costs.