School zone safety is paramount, according to both the Cleveland Police Department and the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office.
“Due to the increase in school bus safety violators, we are reaching out to the public to inform you about Tennessee State Law 55-8-151 and The Cleveland Municipal Code 15-131, regarding overtaking and/or passing school buses,” said Evie West, information officer for CPD.
“In attempts to prevent an injury to a child, we want to familiarize drivers with the law concerning this issue. Please share this article with your friends, family and neighbors, so together, we can make Cleveland a safer place for all our citizens,” West said.
BCSO officials continue the Lifesaver campaign, which focuses on driver and passenger safety.
“So far we have had 19 traffic fatalities. What you may not have known is that only one of these deaths was related to alcohol and only three to speed. The rest of the deaths were related to attention problems. So, these attention problems have accounted for almost 74 percent of our traffic deaths. It is also worth noting that in six of these deaths (31.5 percent) the victims were not wearing their seat belts. So, you can see that inattention while driving is a real problem. People are frequently placing themselves and others in danger when they reach down to pick up something off the floorboard, adjust the radio, answer their cellphone or create and send text messages. People are still texting while driving and are rear-ending other vehicles or otherwise running into them, or are running out of the roadway and hitting stationary objects such as trees or buildings,” ssaid Sheriff Jim Ruth.
Inattention in school zones is also evident.
BCSO Traffic Unit deputies continually monitor school zones for speeders, those who may pass stopped buses illegally, seat belt violators and other zone traffic offenses.
According to officials at BCSO, deputies who have been off-duty have observed drivers illegally passing school buses, but could not perform enforcement due to the fact they were off-duty and in personal vehicles.
“This type driving is dangerous to our children who enter and exit school buses and laws regarding school zones and buses will be enforced,” said Ruth.
West supplied the municipal and sate laws.
According to West, City Municipal Code 15-131 reads the same as Tennessee Code Annotated, 55-8-151 (a) (1) — Overtaking and passing school, youth or church bus, markings, discharging passengers, penalties.
(The City Municipal Code 15-131 reads;
(a) (1) The driver of a vehicle upon a highway, upon meeting or overtaking from either direction any school bus that has stopped on the highway for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school children, shall stop the vehicle before reaching the school bus, and the driver shall not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or is signaled by the school bus driver to proceed or the visual signals are no longer actuated. Subsection (a) shall also apply to a school bus with lights flashing and stop sign extended and marked in accordance with this subsection (a) that is stopped upon property owned, operated, or used by a school or educational institution, if the bus is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school children outside a protected loading zone. Any person failing to comply with the requirements of this subsection (d), requiring motor vehicles to stop upon approaching youth buses, or violating any of the provisions of this subsection (d), commits a Class C misdemeanor.
“Please drive with due regard for the safety of our children,” West said.