"The last thing anyone wants to do is hurt a child -- we have to do everything we can to help keep them safe."
Sheriff Mike Heaton
By DIANE DIERKS
It's that time of year again. Time to be alert for children as they head back to school.
Since switching to daylight-saving time, students are spending more hours waiting for buses in the dark, and motorists should pay close attention during the morning when visibility is decreased.
Frank Misner, director of transportation for Clay Community School Corp., reminds drivers that both sides of traffic need to stop when the stop arm of the bus is out. Names and license plate numbers of stop arm violators will be turned into the prosecutor's office.
According to a staff member at the prosecutor's office, stop arm violations can be charged as a Class B Misdemeanor, with a jail sentence of up to 180 days and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Brazil City Police Chief Mark Loudermilk said it is very helpful for motorists to report stop arm violators to authorities.
Misner said it takes the combined efforts of bus drivers, parents, motorists and the kids, themselves, to ensure a safe commute.
It's important for parents to have children at the bus stop on time, even in inclement weather.
Students need to act responsibly, so the bus driver is not distracted and motorists should be mindful of children waiting for the bus along roadways.
Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton points out drivers have many distractions to deal with including, radio, cell phones, appointments -- drivers need to make a conscious effort to focus on their surroundings.
Changing weather conditions can lead to changing road conditions, which affects the safety of drivers and riders. Children may slip and fall, cars may require a longer stopping time and visibility may decrease.
Heaton also requested that if a student sees any suspicious behavior, they report it to a teacher, counselor or parent. Sometimes children worry about being a "tattle tale," but it is crucial for students to pass on information. Heaton said, "The last thing anyone wants to do is hurt a child - we have to do everything we can to help keep them safe."