GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSP) — As students head back to school, law enforcement is urging drivers to be careful in and around school zones.

The Greenville Police Department said it plans to increase its patrols near schools for the first month of the school year to ensure people are driving responsibly.

“What we’ll do is not only have school resource officers (SROs) out there, we’ll also have different traffic officers enforcing the speed limit, watching for pedestrians crossing the road and helping out the crossing guards,” Sgt. Johnathan Bragg said.

The Greenville Police Department released the following guidelines for driving near schools:

  1. Observe Speed Limits
  2. Eliminate Distractions
  3. Pay Attention to School Buses
  4. Yield to Pedestrians
  5. Follow Drop-off/Pick-up Procedures

According to the Transportation Research Board, about 25,000 children are injured when walking to and from school yearly. Master Trooper Mitchell Ridgeway, of the South Carolina Highway Patrol, said these incidents can be avoided.

“I think we can get these incidents almost to zero as long as everyone’s paying attention.’ Ridgeway said. “It takes a community of people to realize driving a vehicle from Point A to Point B is dangerous enough. So, if you’re on your cell phone, speeding or not paying attention, it just makes it that much more likely that you’re going to be involved in something.”

As people drive to and from schools, Ridgeway said it is important to remember that school buses will also be on the roads.

“When you see a school bus and those yellow/amber lights that are flashing, that means you need to prepare to stop,” he explained. “As soon as those lights turn red, you have to stop because that stop arm is going to come out.”

“If you’re on a two-lane road, you have to stop [for a school bus] no matter what,” he added. “If you’re behind a school bus traveling in the same direction, you have to stop. If you’re traveling in an opposing direction, you have to stop. Now, if you’re on a multi-lane (four-lane) road – with a raised or concrete median – and are traveling in the same direction as a school bus, you have to stop. But, if you’re traveling in the opposing direction on that multi-lane road of four lanes or more, you don’t have to stop.”

A person who does not stop for a school bus could face consequences.

“Every school bus now has some type of video system,” Ridgeway said. “It’ll record that person running that ‘stop school bus’ arm. That tag is sent to us, and then we go out and find that particular individual.”

“People who are found to be in violation of this can face a fine of up to $1,000 and six points on their license,” Bragg added.

Ridgeway also urges parents to speak with their teenagers before they get behind the wheel.

“Sometimes they’re [teenagers] by themselves,” Ridgeway said. “Sometimes, they’re taking their younger siblings to school. Make sure they’re not driving distracted on their cell phones. Make sure they are paying attention to their speeds. Make sure everybody’s wearing their seatbelt.”