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SCHP: Safety a priority as school year begins

Troopers from the S.C. Highway Patrol are doing what they can to remind people who share the roads that the beginning of the school year brings with it more traffic and additional responsibilities as a driver.

“With kids going back to school, we want to remind people particularly about school bus safety,” said SCHP Cpl. Justin Sutherland.

The first day of classes for Laurens County School Districts 55 and 56 is set for Aug. 20.

Sutherland said county residents should be on the lookout for increased vehicle traffic and more pedestrians, particularly in school zones and populated residential areas.

As school begins, Sutherland said drivers should expect to see an increased presence from the SCHP in school areas.

“We will be working school zones, and we will be enforcing school zone speeds in Laurens County,” he said.

Sutherland also said drivers should know what to do when encountering school buses on local roadways. Drivers on two-lane roads are required to stop when bus lights are flashing and the buses’ stop arms are extended. On four-lane or larger roads, drivers traveling in the same direction as the bus are required to stop.

Failure to do so can be expensive, Sutherland said.

A first-time offense can cost a minimum of $500 and six points against one’s license. A subsequent offense can cost at least $2,000 and six points.

“If the yellow lights on the bus are flashing, go ahead and get ready to stop,” Sutherland said. “That’s not the time to speed up and try to go around the bus.”

In addition to buses being back on the road, more cars getting students to and from school will be on the road at certain times of the day. Some high school students will be driving as well.

“I’d say if you’re running late for class, just be late – don’t try to speed,” Sutherland said. “Don’t try to speed. Going to detention is a lot better than being in a wreck or getting a ticket. Just suffer the consequences, and be late.”

Sutherland offered up several other tips for drivers, students and parents:

Put reflective tape or stickers on backpacks for students who walk to school or may be waiting for a bus during early morning hours.

Children younger than 10 years old should not cross streets and roads alone.

If you’re attempting to cross the road, attempt to make eye contact with oncoming drivers to make sure he sees you before crossing.

No distracted driving, stow the cell phones and electronic devices.

To learn more about rules of the road, traffic safety and sharing the roads with school buses, visit


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