With a new school year comes another round of reminders to motorists that they must safely share the road with school buses. It's unbelievable to me that there are drivers out there who still can't understand this basic law, which is crucial to keep our kids safe.

It seems every year we hear of tragic incidents across the country involving children seriously injured or killed because someone failed to stop when a school bus was picking up or dropping off a child. In Duluth alone, there were over 100 school bus stop arm violations last year.

Stopping for school buses isn't just important, it's the law. In the state of Minnesota, the law requires all vehicles to stop for school buses when the bus driver activates the flashing lights and has the crossing arm fully extended.

Drivers who violate the law face a $500 fine. Drivers can face criminal charges for passing a school bus on the right, passing when a child is outside the bus, or injuring or killing a child.

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Personally, I think they should double that $500 fine and also include a drivers license suspension for violating this law as it only takes one time to cause irreparable harm to a child and their family.

 

To serve as a reminder of this law, and to show Northland motorists what they can expect to see from school buses while on the road, the Duluth Police Department recorded this video PSA.

The Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety has also provided the following tips for both motorists and students:

Motorists

  • Motorists must stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights or a stop arm when approaching from the rear and from the opposite direction on undivided roads.
  • Motorists should slow down, pay attention and anticipate school children and buses, especially in neighborhoods and school zones.
  • The best way to be aware of your surroundings at all times is to put the distractions away.

Students

  • When getting off a bus, look to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder.
  • Wait for the bus driver to signal that it’s safe to cross.
  • When crossing the street to get on the bus or to go home, make eye contact with motorists before proceeding.

Hopefully, we can all share the road safely this school year and beyond and not have anywhere close to 100+ school bus stop arm violations in Duluth or any community.

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