Stopping for school buses is ‘all about the safety of the student’ Quaker Valley officer says
Drivers beware: If the stop sign extends from the side of the school bus in front of you and the red lights on the bus begins to flash, you must stop. It’s the law.
If you don’t, you’ll face a hefty fine.
Quaker Valley School District leaders are reminding drivers to obey the law and help keep kids safe, as part of National Bus Safety Week, held on Oct. 22 to 26.
“It’s all about the safety of the students,” said Quaker Valley school police Officer Aaron Vanatta.
The National School Bus Safety Week program is sponsored by the National Association for Pupil Transportation, the National School Transportation Association and the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services.
In Quaker Valley, the district will hang posters to remind drivers of the importance of driving safely around school buses.
With the 2018-19 school year under way and the clock soon shifting an hour back, meaning it will be darker when kids wait for the bus each morning, this is an important time to remind drivers and parents alike of the law, Vanatta said.
On occasion, the district receives complaints about vehicles passing a school bus that is stopped to let off a child, with its red lights flashing and stop sign extended out to the side, Vanatta said.
“Obviously, that’s illegal,” he said. “I don’t think people understand that the penalty for that is pretty severe.”
The law stipulates that all vehicles — whether they’re driving in the opposite direction as the bus, or at a cross street — must stop if the bus has its stop arm out and red lights flashing, Vanatta said. The vehicles also must stop 10 feet from the bus, he said.
“You have to stop basically anytime unless there’s a divided highway,” Vanatta said.
Buses are supposed to use those signals anytime they’re not dropping a child off directly on the sidewalk, Vanatta said. While some smaller buses that drop students directly off on the sidewalk do not have those features, Vanatta still recommends stopping.
“Be careful around any bus,” he said. There can be blind spots for drivers and there are children involved.
If a driver is convicted of not stopping when legally required to around a school bus, they can face a $250 fine, plus court costs, a loss of five points on their license and automatic 60 day suspension of a their license, Vanatta said.
At Quaker Valley middle school and high school, to ensure student safety getting off the bus, the driveways around the schools are closed to other traffic during unloading and loading time, Vanatta said. New signs went up last week alerting drivers that the loops around both schools are for buses only from 7:30 to 8 a.m. and 2:30 to 3:15 p.m.
Parents also should watch their little ones when they’re waiting for the bus, Vanatta said. With it getting darker in the mornings, it’s harder for drivers to see, so make sure the kids stay off the street, he advises.
“Always be careful,” he said.
Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.