Stopping for School Buses

As the school year continues and weather begins to change –
it’s always a good idea to remember to rules of the road. There have been
several incidents around the country involving children being injured or killed
when their school bus is struck by another vehicle. Chief Deputy Ryan
Waldschmidt says not stopping for a school bus has some hefty consequences. 

Waldschmidt tells us “it’s in
everyone’s best interest, obviously, to travel safely around a bus. But if you
do not stop for a school bus with its stop arm out and the red lights on, it’s
a $326.50 citation and four points against your driving record, so that’s a
pretty steep penalty for going around or past a school bus.”

And while the rules about stopping for a bus may seem simple, they
can also be a bit confusing at times. Many drivers are unsure which situations absolutely require them to stop when near a school bus.

Waldschmidt reminds drivers that “the only
time you don’t have to stop for a bus going the other direction is if there’s
an actual median strip. So if there’s a separate median, then you do not have
to stop. But if there is just lanes of traffic and more than two lanes, one in
each direction, but it’s not separated by a median, you still have to stop your

He also points out that school buses are designed to draw your
attention, and that 
“buses by
their nature are intended to be highly visible. They sit higher off the ground
than most vehicles, their bright yellow color scheme, they have the flashing
white light on top to draw your attention, and then obviously the red flashing
lights when they’re stopped – but by they’re own nature they are built to be
highly visible.”

But even with all of those safety precautions, distracted drivers could miss the entire bus and just keep on going.  

Waldschmidt says that “still, even with all of those safety features and visibility features on a school bus, people when they’re distracted and looking down doing any number of things – we see it all with people distracted behind the wheel – but they don’t even see the school bus. And there have been times where we’ve followed up with a driver and they have no idea what we’re talking about. And these school bus drivers aren’t just making up these instances.”

He says some of those drivers don’t remember passing a bus, but the bus driver’s story is usually held up when the person admits to driving in that same area around the same time that bus was making the stop. 

There has not been a major school bus-related crash in Fond du Lac County since 1996.