Caution urged as schools reopen in Lafayette Parish

Nearly 300 big, yellow Lafayette Parish School System buses are back on the roads Tuesday, and Lafayette police remind drivers to be extra cautious and attentive, especially in school zones.

“If you’re passing within any distance of a school, be aware that there’ll be crossing guards and students,” Lafayette Police Cpl. Paul Mouton said. “In those school zones, be attentive to your speed and don’t talk on the cellphone.”

Police officers will be looking for motorists who do not obey the lower speed limits in school zones, as well as a new state law that took effect Aug. 1 that prohibits the use of hand-held cellphones and other mobile devices in school zones during posted hours, Mouton said. The new law only applies if signage about the prohibition of hand-held device usage is posted.

Mouton advised drivers to add extra traveling time to their routines to account for the back-to-school traffic.

“We’re asking people to have more patience because there will be more vehicles on the roadway,” Mouton said.

There will be 283 Lafayette Parish school buses sharing the road with motorists starting Tuesday, and it could take a few days for pickup and drop-off times at bus stops to be worked out, said Damon Evans, Lafayette Parish School System transportation director.

“If parents could allow 10 minutes both prior and after bus stop times, it would be appreciated. Usually, we are off on times for the start of school approximately four to six days. Things start to calm down and drivers get into their routine during the second week of school,” Evans said.

Evans said the transportation department is fully staffed with drivers but is in need of substitutes. He said he hired more than 25 substitute drivers as full-time drivers during the summer and is trying to rebuild his corps of substitutes.

Parents may view their child’s bus information online at lpssonline.com or by calling (337) 521-RIDE.

Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.