Summertime seemed to pass quickly, and our local students and teachers are gearing up to start the new school year on Friday.

With that in mind, I want to take a moment to review some points of safety from the Department of Highway Safety for those traveling in school zones or sharing the road with Holmes County school buses.

Motorists should always be alert and drive with caution around school buses and in school zones where children may be present like schools, bus stops, school buses and school parking lots.

 Motorists should also heed: 

- Be alert and watch for children, especially near schools, bus stops, school buses and in school parking lots.

- Children on bicycles can be unpredictable and can make sudden changes in direction. Be especially careful when children are present in school zones and residential areas.

- Pay extra attention to lower speed limits in school zones.

- Watch for and obey signals from school crossing guards.

- Only drive or park in authorized areas to drop off or pick up children at school.

- Motorists are required to stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing and STOP arms extended.

- All drivers moving in either direction on a two-way street must stop for a school bus displaying a stop signal, and must remain stopped until the road is clear of children AND the school bus stop arm is withdrawn. 

On a highway divided by a paved median, all drivers moving in either direction must stop for a school bus displaying a stop signal, and must remain stopped until the road is clear of children AND the school bus stop arm is withdrawn.

The only time traffic approaching an oncoming school bus does not need to stop, is if there is a raised barrier such as a concrete divider or at least five feet of unpaved space separating the lanes of traffic.

On a highway divided by a raised barrier or an unpaved median at least 5 feet wide, drivers moving in the opposite direction do not have to stop for the bus (painted lines or pavement markings are not considered barriers). However, these motorists should slow down and watch for students loading or unloading from the bus.

In upcoming events, don’t forget about the free food giveaway (in partnership with Feeding the Gulf Coast) that Holmes County Sheriff’s Office is hosting this Saturday at 8 a.m. at Ponce de Leon High School or the concealed weapons class scheduled to take place at the 10 a.m. at the Holmes County Jail on August 18. All proceeds will benefit the Holmes County High School Class of 2019.

Here’s wishing you all a happy and safe academic year.

If you would like to submit general questions about Sheriff’s Office related topic to Sheriff John Tate, email: askthesheriff@holmescosheriff.org.