This week marks the start of school for many area children, and with the additional bus traffic on the roads, it is vitally important that drivers be extra cautious and keep a watch out for children who may be in or near the road. According to Brack Rowe, chief deputy at the Starke County Sheriff’s Department, slowing down is the best thing you can do in the early morning or mid-afternoon hours.
“Just be extra cautious,” Rowe said. “Kids are going to be out and about, especially at the beginning of school, some of the kids are going to be anxious, so just slow the driving down and be more cautious about the area, especially if you’re going through a populated neighborhood. Just slow the speed down and be more cautious in your travels.”
And keep in mind, it’s illegal to pass a school bus while the bus stop arm is down. Children may be entering the roadway to board the bus, and attempting to pass a bus while it is stopped and waiting on kids is a bad idea.
“The law for passing a school bus is it’s a violation, it’s a citation and it’s a very heavy fine, so if the bus stop arm is out, all vehicles are to stop in the travel lane until the bus arm is up. So it’s a citation issue and then a heavy fee,” said Rowe.
Rowe said it’s not uncommon for the sheriff’s department to receive complaints of vehicles passing a stopped school bus, and while it’s hard to be everywhere at once, he said they can still cite a driver for passing a school bus even if an officer isn’t present to see it happen.
“On an average per week, we get maybe one or two calls. Unfortunately, due to the location of the officers at the time, a lot of the vehicles aren’t stopped. I know a lot of the school buses have some of the cameras; if we have a plate number of the vehicle, we can still enforce the law for the traffic violation,” said Rowe.
Stay safe this school year. Be mindful of stopped buses; keep an eye out for children entering the road and help prevent injuries to our area students.