MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - Slower speeds, crossing guards and big yellow buses. It will be a way of life for many of us in less than a week.
As bus drivers get ready, scrubbing down their rides and checking the brakes, signs and lights -- take some time to remember some of the rules that can help make the roads safer for them.
Bobby Jackson is the Bus Director for Madison City Schools. He said the first week of school brings the worst traffic, and the Wall Triana Bridge construction makes things worse with detours for buses and cars.
"People need to avoid the areas," Jackson said. "Especially around a school."
Jackson said parents need to remember we still have a law in the books to keep students safe.
"If you pass a stopped school bus sign and the driver gets your tag number and a description of the car, then you're going to go to court," He warned.
The first fine is $150. The consequences escalate from there, eventually resulting in a repeat offender losing their driver's license.
Here's what to look for:
- A flashing red light and extended stop sign means no matter which direction you're heading, you have to stop at least 20 feet away from the bus.
- With a two-lane or four-lane road without a median, traffic from both directions have to stop.
- If there is a median in a two-lane or four-lane DIVIDED highway, only the traffic following the bus, or next to it, is obligated to stop.
The Alabama Senate passed SB 144 in March, a proposal that would equip school buses with automated traffic cameras. Proponents say the cameras will cut down on the number of motorists who try to swerve by school buses while loading or unloading children.
This is the first year those cameras are allowed, and Jackson said Madison school officials are looking into them. He's been working with the Madison City Attorney, Judge Wolfe, and some of Madison Police Office to see how to go about it.
"Right now we're looking at it as a cost factor," He said. "That's a call the City will have to make."
Jackson has been pushing for the system since March. He said they see on average five or six instances of illegally passing a bus every week during the school year.
"It's hard for the drivers to get the tag numbers and descriptions sometimes because they're going so fast," he said.
Morgan County schools already have the traffic cameras on the outside of their buses. Superintendent Bill Hopkins tells us the cameras are unbelievably sharp, and can catch a tag on a car passing at 50 miles per hour.
Huntsville City Schools also said they are looking into the feasibility of installing cameras on their school buses.