We applaud Sheriff Gary Toelke’s decision to have deputies ride on school buses to catch motorists who violate laws requiring stops and caution. We hope they catch some of the violators.
School bus drivers have reported numerous violations of the law that requires motorists to not pass a bus that has stopped to permit children to get on or off the bus. Motorists should be aware that many of the children cross the road when a bus has stopped.
Sheriff Toelke said the violations of the law are due to “aggressive/hazardous driving, inattention or ignorance of the law.” Some of the inattention is due to using a cellphone, or even texting while driving by motorists.
We are all aware that there can’t be a deputy on every school bus in the county. But motorists will not know which buses have a deputy riding along. Sheriff’s deputies generally only have jurisdiction in the unincorporated areas of the county. Many violations occur on city streets. Perhaps municipal police will increase their vigilance on this important safety measure.
The sheriff reminded motorists when flashing red lights are activated on a bus, it means that motorists must stop in both directions. Many of us have observed a motorist going in the opposite direction not stopping while motorists to the rear of the bus did stop. A good practice is for motorists behind a bus to keep a distance from the bus.
Motorists behind a bus often are aggravated by the constant stops, especially on a rural road. When there is a long line of vehicles behind a bus, if possible, the bus driver should pull over at a safe spot and let the vehicles pass.
The lives of children are at risk, especially when they have to cross a road on the way to their homes, or when they have to cross a road to where the bus stops.
A slow speed and alertness should be the practices taken as routine measures when near a school bus or a school.
There are many school buses on roads due to the consolidation of schools that occurred many year ago.
We hope the deputies catch a few of these law violators. When they do, our courts should levy the maximum penalty. What should happen is that a driver who fails to stop for a school bus should have his license suspended for a period of time. We doubt if we ever will see a law with that size of teeth. A severe bite is needed!