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‘School in Session’

Courier/Les Stukenberg
Wyatt Dutton runs to catch his dad Monday after checking out which bus to ride home after his first day of school in kindergarten at Coyote Springs Elementary School in Prescott Valley.

Courier/Les Stukenberg Wyatt Dutton runs to catch his dad Monday after checking out which bus to ride home after his first day of school in kindergarten at Coyote Springs Elementary School in Prescott Valley.

It’s that time again – school bells are ringing and children are sitting in classrooms while traffic signs remind drivers to slow down and school buses extend their retractable stop signs as they once again make their routes.

While Prescott and Humboldt unified school districts welcomed students back Monday, drivers on Gurley Street near Washington Traditional School likely noticed the 15-mile-per-hour signs back up in school zones this past week.

Also, school buses are once again on the road, most frequently between 6 and 9 a.m. and between 2 and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“It’s very common for law enforcement agencies to pay attention to school zones during the opening days of school,” said Scott Reed, crime prevention specialist and spokesperson for the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the law, drivers must not exceed 15 mph between the “school in session” signs.

Drivers also must yield to pedestrians in any crosswalk and, Reed said, “must avoid striking pedestrians whether they’re in a crosswalk or not.”

“They need to be alert and driving at safe speeds so they could safely avoid a pedestrian,” Reed said.

That’s especially important with school beginning, he said, because many young children aren’t familiar with the rules of crosswalks and may not use them.

Regarding school buses, driving laws state that when a school bus is stopped with its red lights flashing and its stop sign extended, drivers on both sides of the road must stop (unless the road contains a median).

Bus drivers turn on the bus’ yellow lights to warn drivers that the bus is about to stop. When it stops, the driver puts on flashing red lights and extends a stop sign from the driver’s side of the bus.

At that time, drivers traveling in both directions must stop, and must remain stopped until the stop sign retracts and the lights stop flashing.

If the bus is out of the roadway, drivers may continue driving even if the bus is stopped.

Failing to stop and wait when a bus is flashing its red lights carries a $130 fine and is a criminal traffic violation – a misdemeanor.

Chino Valley schools opened Aug. 1. All schools will continue (with fall, winter and spring breaks) until at least the end of May 2006.

Contact the reporter at heller@prescottaz.com

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