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Safety, caution important around school buses

School buses begin operation this week so it is important to know the laws


September 6, 2017 | View PDF

File Photo

Cameras installed on the side of Marysville school buses are programmed to catch drivers who run through the bus' stop paddle.

As the school year starts after Labor Day, buses will return to their routes and local motorists should keep safety in mind when on the road..

Traci Tobler, transportation manager for the Marysville School District, said the biggest safety problems occur when people get impatient around a stopped school bus.

"Driving around a stopped bus, whether their lights are on or not," causes problems, she said.

"Motorists have limited visibility because the bus is so big, and when they try to pass from the rear they can't see the whole picture of what's happening, so they could have a collision with another car or a student that they can't see from their vantage point," she said.

A stopped bus, especially one with its lights on, is one that students are moving on or off.

"If you see a bus with their lights flashing then, in general, there will be students around that bus getting ready to load or unload," said Tobler.

Even from the other direction motorists should be careful around school buses.

"Likewise, in the front of the bus, the vehicle is blocking part of their view and if they see a stopped bus just be very cautious," said Tobler.

When the stop sign is out on a bus, the law says that all cars going the same direction as the bus must stop, "whether there are two lanes or five lanes," said Tobler.

However, cars going in the opposite direction of the bus can continue through the sign if there are three or more lanes on the road.

"Once there is more than two lanes, the other vehicles do not have to stop," said Tobler.

Car drivers ignoring the stop sign is a common occurrence, she said.

"The drivers are seeing motorists run their stop paddles on a daily basis. We train our drivers with the safest practices, but it's a chronic problem," said Tobler.

Working with the Marysville Police Department, the Marysville School District installed cameras onto their buses last year to help catch motorists who do drive through the stop signs.

"For the safety of the students, when law enforcement approached us we said 'yeah, let's give that a try,' and see if we can bring that awareness to the general public," said Tobler.

The cameras were installed at the end of last year.

The district sends videos of potential violations to American Traffic Solutions, the company that provided the cameras, who then send video to the Marysville Police Department who confirm that a driver violated the law.

"We were very pleased with the implementation and results of the cameras in the first couple of months and we are looking forward to using them for a whole year," said Cmdr. Mark Thomas of the Marysville Police Department.

Tobler and Thomas said the goal of the program was to raise awareness of the laws.

"Our goal is to not have to write any tickets and through education and awareness get people to stop for school buses," said Thomas.

Courtesy Image

This graphic shows when you must stop if a school bus has its red lights flashing and stop bar extended.

The Marysville Police Department reviewed 49 videos in May and 14 in June, and ended up sending out 60 total tickets last year.

Tobler also said that drivers should be patient as bus drivers learn the routes in September.

"The safety concerns we would have is to be patient with our bus drivers as they're learning their routes and where the stops are," she said.

This is also often a problem for substitute drivers as well, she said.

"Substitute drivers generally drive a little slower because they are trying to find addresses for students they're picking up," said Tobler.

"Be patient and plan for extra time in the commute would help those bus drivers," she said.


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