Passing Of Stopped School Buses Can Result In Serious Danger, Penalties
Darren Doyle, story and photo:
A joint effort between multiple agencies has been announced in an attempt to stop the passing of school buses as the 2018-19 school year is now underway.
The Edmonson County Sheriff's Office, County Attorney Greg Vincent, and the Edmonson County School Transportation Office are teaming up to remind the public of the dangers and penalties for passing stopped school buses.
"We had seven incidents during the first ten days of school," said school transportation director Lannie Deweese. "Thankfully none of them were really close calls with students, but two of them had that potential."
Deweese said many drivers are confused or unaware of the laws that require stopping when a school bus activates its emergency lights and stop sign.
"Some people think that because there are three lanes in Brownsville with a turning lane, that they don't have to stop when the bus is stopped in the opposite direction, but that's not true. According to state law, unless there are four or more lanes that are divided by a median, all vehicles must stop when a stop sign is activated, and that includes ALL of Edmonson County."
The easy way to remember is simply, when you see an activated school bus stop sign anywhere in Edmonson County, you are required to stop.
County Attorney Greg Vincent said his office is serious about the prosecution of these violations, and now since school buses are equipped with cameras that can capture images of vehicles, drivers, and license plates, his office can better pursue these cases.
"There have already been several incidents and this is something we take very seriously," he said. "I'm willing to prosecute friends and people I know. It's caused me to lose friendships and clients in the past, but passing school buses won't be tolerated within this office. I welcome a joint effort from other agencies to protect the youth of Edmonson County."
Sheriff Shane Doyle said that while it's not been a major issue in the past, it has progressively become a worse problem over the past couple of years.
"Just by simply not paying attention to our buses, people are putting our children's lives at risk," Doyle said. "Our children's safety is our number one priority. We will take the information from the school transportation office and work with County Attorney Vincent to make sure we're all doing our part to stop this."
Deweese said there is even some leniency with the timetable of an activated stop sign, and bus drivers and students are both trained to react to those that choose to violate school bus safety laws.
"It's not like our drivers are activating a sign without allowing other vehicles the time to stop. We allow at least a five-second window after the sign is activated before they report a violation. That's plenty of time to see that a bus is stopped. In one incident, the violation happened 11 seconds after the sign was activated."
Penalties for passing a school bus in KY can result in a $200 fine and 60 days in jail for the first offense, and a second offense can bring as much as up to a $500 fine with 6 months in jail.