CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – A new public school year starts Monday, and local motorists are urged to be ready for increased traffic around school zones, added pedestrian traffic, and a return to the road of those big yellow school buses.
Clarksville-Montgomery County School System classes start with a half-day on Monday, Aug. 31 and then resume with a half-day schedule on Tuesday, Sept. 1. Full-day schedules resume on Thursday, Sept. 2. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, about 60 percent of students will be in schools and 40 percent of students will pursue their studies online from home.
Many students at area private schools and academies have already returned to school full-time. Austin Peay State University resumed classes on Monday.
Clarksville Police will be out in force for the next several weeks to ensure motorists are following the rules of the road in school zones and along bus routes. School crossing guards, who are City employees supervised by CPD, also will be working in many school zones.
"The emphasis is on safety because the school zones haven’t been in use since March, so we need to remind motorists that they are about to become active," said Lt. Vincent Lewis, with CPD’s Traffic Enforcement Unit.
School zones are marked with lights or traffic signs, so drivers need to be alert, obey speed limits and avoid distractions. Motorists also must pay attention to school crossing guards or officers directing traffic in the school zones. Drivers must not block crosswalks and must be prepared to stop and yield to children in crosswalks.
All school zones have a 20 mph speed limit unless otherwise posted. Speeding in a school zone can result in a fine of $269 and points on your license. It also could result in reckless driving charges.
Motorists should be careful when traveling near school buses and allow more stopping distance, which provides more time to react when a bus’s yellow lights start flashing.
Here are other key regulations involving buses:
It is illegal to pass a school bus stopped to load or unload children. Never pass on the right side of the bus, which is the loading and unloading area for children.
When meeting a school or church bus, if the red stop warning signal lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop until the stop arm is pulled back and the bus motion resumes.
When overtaking a school or church bus, drivers approaching from the rear shall not pass when the red stop warning signal lights are flashing. Drivers must come to a complete stop until the stop signal arm is pulled in and the bus motion resumes.
Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop.
Red flashing lights and extended stop arm mean the bus is stopping to load or unload children. Motorists should stop and wait until the red flashing lights are turned off, the stop arm is retracted and the bus begins to move again.
When driving on a highway with separate roadways for traffic in opposite directions, divided by a median space or barrier (examples: SR 76 Connector and Jack Miller Boulevard), drivers in opposite direction of bus travel do not have to stop but should proceed with caution.
A turn lane in the middle of a four-lane highway is not considered a barrier. Drivers meeting a school bus on this type of road (examples: Fort Campbell Boulevard, Providence Boulevard and Tiny Town Road) would be required to stop in both directions.
School bus violations carry a fine of $250 to $1,000. The typical fine is $464 and points on your license.