Van Wert City Schools Assistant Superintendent Bill Clifton and two Van Wert City School bus drivers pose with Sgt. Adam Brincefield and Lt. Jonathon Gray of the Van Wert Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. The Patrol wishes to remind motorists that the week of Oct. 19 - 23 is National School Bus Safety Week.
The week of Oct. 19 - 23 is National School Bus Safety Week and the Van Wert Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol is concerned about the safety of children riding to and from school. “School Bus Safety Week is important because it concerns our community’s children,” said Lt. Jonathon Gray, post commander of the Van Wert Post.
Gray noted that in the last couple of years there have been high-profile cases that have involved children being struck at school bus stops. He added that motorists should be aware that “red lights on school buses mean stop.” He said the post receives reports every week from area schools that people are still running the red lights on buses. “We have to bring that information to the public’s forefront that when you see those lights, you should be stopping,” Gray said.
Gray said that drivers need to be particularly cautious during the times buses are usually out on the road — in the mornings from 6:30-9:30 a.m. and again in the afternoons from 2:30-4:30 p.m. “When you see a bus, use that as a reminder to pay a bit more attention and put down your phone and anything else that could take your attention from the wheel.”
Sgt. Adam Brincefield of the post said part of the problem lies with a lack of information but added that distraction also plays a role. He said the addition of a school bus approaching to the equation prevents motorists from having the time to react. “It happens, it happens everyday,” Brincefield said, adding that it is still a violation and an offense the post will investigate. He said when people see school buses they need to pay attention. “They should be looking ahead for that bus, being ready for that bus to stop. It goes back to basic driver education, scanning left to right, looking down the road, and not being distracted.”
Brincefield added, “With the new technology on the school buses it makes the violation much easier to capture.” Many of the school buses in both Paulding and Van Wert counties have video equipment aboard which increases the likelihood that the Patrol will be able to determine the violator. “We have a plate and a lot of times we actually have a photo of the driver.” He said bus drivers will report violations. “They’re offended when someone passes their lights and it puts a child in danger.”
The law states that motorists approaching a stopped school bus on a road with less than four lanes letting children on or off has to stop at least 10 feet from the front or rear of the bus and shall not proceed until the school bus resumes motion, or until signaled by the school bus driver to proceed. Motorists approaching a stopped school bus going the opposite direction on a road with four or more lanes do not have to stop — they should proceed with caution. Although a misdemeanor, violators face a mandatory court appearance, a possible license suspension, and fines up to $500.
In addition, state law mandates driving 20 miles per hour in school zones during school recess and while children are going to or leaving school during opening or closing hours. Anyone driving 36 mph and faster in school zone will face increased penalties.
Original article courtesy of Times Bulletin