Herscher school bus (copy)

A student boards one of a line of school buses. With the 2019-2020 academic year upon us, Illinois State Police urge motorists to operate their vehicles with greater precaution.

ASHKUM — Another school year is starting and that means an increase in pedestrian and vehicular traffic around schools.

Don Aaron Harsy, Illinois State Police captain and District 21 commander, said motorists need to be watchful of slowed or stopped school buses, crosswalks and of children walking or riding their bike to and from school.

Be mindful of children possibly darting out from between parked cars. Plan ahead and allow extra time for school buses and the increase in traffic flow during the morning- and after-school hours.

State police remind motorists that loading and unloading happens twice, in the morning and after school. Patience and awareness are needed to allow students and children to get to their destination safely.

Motorists also are reminded to obey the school zone speed limit and avoid distracted driving.

The speed limit in school zones is 20 mph and is in effect from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on school days when children are present.

Motorists are reminded that driving while talking on a hand-held cellular device is strictly prohibited, as well as texting while driving. A first time offense and any subsequent offense is considered a moving violation.

Motorists approaching a stopped school bus with lights activated and a sign extended must stop their vehicle before reaching the school bus.

The only exception to this is on a four-lane road. State police note that when a bus is stopped on a four-lane road, the two lanes traveling in the opposite direction do not stop. Children are allowed to only enter or exit a school bus from the side of the street where the bus is stopped.

Failure to obey school bus laws can result in a $150 fine and a three-month driver’s license suspension. Pedestrians have the right-of-way in a crosswalk.

A version of this story appeared in the Friday digital edition of the Daily Journal.

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