It is hard to believe, but in a few weeks the new School year will be commencing. As usual it is hard to determine whether the kids or the parents are more excited to begin the new school year.
I hope that all had an enjoyable summer, and would like to take some time to re-focus on some safety reminders that we should all be aware. For those driving out on the country roads, be aware that you will be sharing that road once again with the school buses. Give them the attention and respect they deserve. If you are driving on the streets of the Cities and Villages, be aware of the increased pedestrian traffic. Do not assume that the child about to cross the street will see you and will stop.
For this week, I would like to focus on the rural environment and touch on a few of the basic statutes that relate to school buses. From time to time I get asked “When does the oncoming vehicle need to stop for a school bus about to load or unload”. State Statute 346.48 “Vehicles to stop for school buses displaying flashing lights” states that any vehicle approaching from either the front or the back of a school bus with its flashing lights activated must stop not less than 20 feet from the bus and shall remain stopped until the bus resumes motion or the operator of the bus has extinguished its flashing lights. This statute also directs the driver of the bus that they must activate those flashing lights 100 feet prior to the location of the subjects to be loaded or unloaded.
State Statute 346.485”Owners liability for vehicle illegally passing a school bus” describes the process by which the driver of the school bus documents the incident, and reports it to law enforcement, thus allowing law enforcement to cite the owner of the vehicle regardless of who the driver is. This is different from most statutes in which we issue the citation to the driver.
These laws do not pertain to drivers on the opposite side of a divided highway when the school bus is loading or unloading.
Aside from these two statutes, it is also important to note that school buses will and do make wide right turns, and that due caution should be used when near a bus at or near an intersection. And finally, please remember that those drivers have a lot going on inside that bus. Please give them the space and time that they deserve considering the cargo they are carrying. Next week, I will cover some safety tips for those eager learners traveling by foot to their academic institutions.