MS law involving stopped school buses goes into effect

MS law involving stopped school buses goes into effect
Photo credit: WDAM

MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - New laws went into effect in Mississippi Friday, and one of those changes how moving traffic operates around a stopped school bus.

"When there are two lanes of traffic in each direction on a four-lane road, that traffic is not required to stop on the opposing side of traffic when a school bus stops," Hattiesburg Public School District Communication Director Jas N Smith said.

According to the law:

"The driver of a vehicle upon a highway that has four (4) lanes or more, whether or not there is a median or turn lane, need not stop upon meeting or passing a school bus that is on a different roadway or when upon a controlled-access highway if the school bus is stopped in a loading zone that is a part of or adjacent to the highway and where pedestrians are not permitted to cross the roadway."

"Well what it does is, it creates more opportunity I think for problems to happen," Smith said.

Smith said students that vary in ages may not always pay attention when loading or unloading a school bus.

"We feel like that people still need to be vigilant when they are dealing with a school bus stopping in their vicinity, whether they are on the side with the bus or the opposing side if it's a two- lane road or four- lane road, we have to remember we are dealing with children," Smith said.

Nathan's Law was passed in 2011, and it required drivers to stop for loading and unloading school buses on all roadways, including four-lane highways.

"Even though we set up a rule that says you can't cross all four lanes of traffic as a pedestrian, students don't always follow the rules and we have to be aware and vigilant as children are unloading from a school bus," Smith said.

The biggest issues that most districts deal with are vehicles passing stopped buses.

Smith said that bus drivers and cameras have helped curb that issue by getting tag numbers and then prosecuting those drivers.

"The best way I can put it is, that the five minutes that you may or may not save are not worth the risk that you are putting to these children's lives," Smith said.