Motorists Encouraged to Exercise Caution Around School Buses
MARSHFIELD, WI (OnFocus) – With the start of another school year, local public safety officials and bus companies are reminding motorists to exercise vigilance and caution around school buses.
According to the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old. They are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus.
Kobussen Buses, which will be starting their second year transporting students in the Marshfield School District, said that last year there were numerous instances of motorists illegally and dangerously passing buses.
“The main roads we have trouble on are Peach Ave, Central Ave, Oak, and the other main thoroughfares,” said Darren Wilson, manager. “We encourage drivers to pay extra attention on those roads and any of the highways coming to and from Marshfield.”
He added that with the new academic year starting, there will be a lot of buses and potential confusion for both students and parents as they adjust to a new school year.
“Motorists should take their time and watch for kids. Pay attention,” said Wilson. “Give them at least 100 feet of clearance. When the lights turn yellow, it doesn’t mean ‘speed up.'”
School bus lights will first flash yellow to indicate an impending stop. Then, red lights will flash and a stop sign will be displayed. Motorists should stop when they see any lights (see more below).
Kobussen Buses have cameras on all buses to help monitor students and document any traffic issues.
“Safety is our top priority,” said Wilson. “We don’t want the drivers having to worry about traffic. We want them to be able to focus on the kids.”
He added that Kobussen is always looking for drivers. Anyone interested is encouraged to reach out to their team.
Wisconsin School Bus Law
The law throughout Wisconsin states that vehicles approaching a school bus that is displaying flashing red warning lights from the rear, or opposing lanes, must stop no closer than 20 feet from a stopped bus. (The exception is Milwaukee, where alderman chose to wait for further study on a stoppage law when school buses are loading and unloading students.)
In past years, Marshfield has witnessed an increase in school bus passings.
The DOT reminds that drivers must stop on the street or highway 20 feet or more from any school bus that has stopped and is flashing red warning lights.
- This applies both to vehicles approaching from the rear and from the opposing lanes.
- All lanes of traffic must stop for the school bus, except in opposing lanes if the highway is divided with a center median.
- No vehicle may proceed until the bus resumes motion and has turned off the red warning lights.
- The stop arm on the bus is an added communication to other drivers, but the lack of an extended stop arm is not reason to pass a bus whose red lights are flashing.
In some urban areas buses will signal with yellow lights, or use red lights only in some parts of town. Motorists should observe school buses carefully for either the “pass cautiously” yellow light signal or the required full stop when a bus is flashing red lights.
A vehicle owner can be cited when the driver of a car passes a school bus illegally. A law enforcement officer need not witness this violation if the school bus driver reports it to the law enforcement agency within 24 hours. Fines can be quite high for illegally passing a school bus, but the risk of hitting a child is even higher.
Find the full State Statute here.
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