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DMV reminds Virginians to stay safe as summer vacation ends

RICHMOND – The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is reminding drivers and pedestrians to stay safe this upcoming holiday weekend and as students head back to school.

In 2012, Virginia recorded 1,194 crashes and six fatalities over the Labor Day holiday weekend.  “Drivers need to be aware that on holiday weekends they will share the road with more vehicles than usual,” said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “It’s important to buckle up, stay alert, and not drive distracted.”

As part of the Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign, law enforcement officers are patrolling Virginia’s roadways to keep drivers safe. Checkpoint Strikeforce is a research-based, multi-state, zero-tolerance initiative designed to get impaired drivers off our roads using checkpoints and patrols when and where drunk driving is most likely to occur and, to educate the public about dangers and consequences of drunk driving. This program is year round, but there is a heavy emphasis around major holidays including Labor Day.

As people return from their final summer vacations, students will be heading back to school, and children may need to be reminded about safety lessons for walking or riding the bus.

“School children need to wait in a safe place at the bus stop, and enter and exit the bus environment safely,” said Commissioner Holcomb. “I encourage all parents to teach and reinforce to children bus safety rules so they become habits.”

Statistics in Virginia show that school buses are one of the safest vehicles on the road, and that most school bus incidents happen off the bus, not on the bus. In 2012 in Virginia, 100 pedestrians were killed and 1,862 were injured. Ten of those injured were getting on or off school buses.

With children everywhere waiting for, boarding and exiting school buses this time of year, it’s a good time to reinforce for drivers Virginia’s back-to-school rules of the road. Passing a school bus is illegal when it is stopped to load or unload passengers, unless a physical barrier or unpaved median separates the traffic going in either direction.

Here are some additional back-to school safety reminders for drivers:

Pedestrians have the right-of-way. When encountering a pedestrian, motorists need to slow down and prepare to stop.

Yellow flashing lights on a school bus mean the bus is preparing to stop and load or unload children. Motorists need to slow down and prepare to stop.

Red flashing lights and an extended stop arm mean the school bus is stopped and children are boarding or exiting the bus. Motorists must come to a complete stop a safe distance from the bus and wait until the bus begins moving before they start driving again.

Drivers are required to travel 25 mph in a school zone when indicated by a sign or signal.

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