October 19th, 2021
RE: National School Bus Safety Week
This week is National Bus Safety Week, where emphasis is placed on the importance of being safe around school bus stops, crosswalks, and anywhere a bus is loading or unloading children. Since the beginning of the school year, the Bonneville County Sheriffs Office has investigated multiple violations of vehicles passing school busses with the stop arm out. Many of these cases are a product of drivers not paying attention, or in a hurry to get to their destination. The consequences of being involved in a crash with a bus or students far outweigh any amount of time motorists are trying to make up in their day. In reality, when motorists are in a hurry, exceeding the speed limit, or not obeying traffic control devices, the amount of risk they add to themselves and others always outweighs the small increments of time they might save.
Because it is National School Bus Safety Week, the Bonneville County Sheriffs Office reminds motorists to pay extra attention to their driving and surroundings in school zones, neighborhoods, crosswalks, and anywhere they see a school bus. Always expect that a bus may be stopping to pick up or unload students, or stopping at railroad crossings. Slowing down and anticipating those stops helps you and the motorists around you drive safe.
Watch for the orange and red lights on school busses, along with the driver side stop arms. When these lights are activated, it means motorists around the bus should prepare to stop prior to passing by the school bus. If you are traveling on a roadway with 3 or less lanes, all traffic oncoming and traffic traveling in the same direction are required to stop until the lights and stop arm on the bus are off and it resumes movement. When traveling on a road with more than 3 lanes, only traffic traveling in the same direction of the bus is required to stop. When in doubt, it’s always better to be on the side of safety by stopping to make sure the students being loaded or unloaded can do so safely.
Passing a school bus stop arm is a Misdemeanor charge that requires an appearance before the judge with a possible penalty of a fine of at least $200. The majority of school busses in our area are equipped with cameras that capture these violations, license plate numbers and a picture of who is driving the vehicle.
Do safe things, be patient and make paying attention to your driving a priority. Be extra careful around school busses, school zones, crosswalks and neighborhoods. Always wear your seatbelt and obey traffic laws and traffic control devices. Being involved in a crash is expensive enough, especially when injuries are involved, and the long lasting effects of a tragedy never go away. Do these safe things and help yourself avoid the risk of being involved in a crash.