Bus safety a priority for troopers

School buses are back on the road.

The Ohio Highway Patrol is starting off the school year as always, with strict enforcement of traffic laws relating to school buses.

According to the OHP, between 2013 and 2015, there were 12 accidents involving school buses in Brown County.  Statewide, there were 3,892.

There were over four thousand tickets written during that time statewide for failure to stop for a school bus.

That particular offense means a mandatory court appearance and a possible driver’s license suspension as well as a fine of up to $500.

“People are violating a school bus law and could potentially injure or kill a child.  And the majority of that time it’s because they are impatient or not paying attention,” said Sgt. Anthony Pearcy, assistant commander of the Georgetown Post.

Pearcy said that the OHP has some procedures in place to catch these drivers in the act.

“Sometimes, troopers will go out and ride the buses to observe the violations and work with another trooper in a patrol car near the bus so they can make the traffic stop,” Pearcy said.

He added that the bus drivers themselves have special authority when they see a violation.

“School bus drivers have the ability to report violations to the patrol.  When that occurs, the troopers will get the information and potentially issue a citation based on the school bus drivers observation.”

Pearcy said he knows of no other situation where a citation can be issued without a violation being directly observed by a law enforcement officer.

Pearcy said another problem troopers see is when drivers try to “beat the bus” by getting ahead of it when they see it coming.

“They will enter the road in a reckless manner, many times crossing lanes or not stopping at stop signs.  What they fail to realize is that there are children up ahead waiting for the bus, and they are committing these violations while children are standing near the roadway,” Pearcy said.

He added that parents can help when it comes to school bus safety.

“We encourage parents to talk to their children and go over the safety precautions with them. Some of these kids are new to the process.  They are still young and being introduced to a potentially dangerous situation getting on or off the buses,” Pearcy said.

He then went over the basics of what to do when drivers see a school bus.

“Motorists should remember to stop at least 10 feet back when approaching a school bus from either side while it displays flashing lights and an extended arm, and to not resume driving until the school bus begins moving,” Pearcy said.

As for what kids should do, he said “Children exiting the bus should always stop and look both ways before crossing the street and remain alert to any sudden traffic changes.”

Pearcy said that any driver who is pulled over for passing a stopped school bus can forget getting off with a warning.

“We will enforce a school bus violation every time.  Every call a school bus driver makes will be investigated and every violation we see on the roadway will result in a citation.”