Drivers often pass stopped buses, director says

Violators face fines of up to $10,000


Quinn Leous

Buses prepare to load students for their trip home. Those buses will make frequent stops, and it’s not uncommon for drivers to illegally pass, according to Mr. Ken Kaufman, director of transportation.

Nic Napier, Opinion Editor

A tragic accident last month that claimed the lives of three siblings at a school bus stop near Rochester, Indiana has brought renewed focus on laws drivers must follow when they approach a stopped bus. 

Mr. Ken Kaufman, director of transportation, said that drivers need to know the rules when on the same road as school buses. The laws, he said, are set up to stop traffic on a two-way street to make sure students can safely get on and off their bus both every morning and afternoon. 

He added that individuals need to be aware when they are driving near school buses, a school bus driver also must follow requirements such as stopping at railroad crossings and opening their side door to view the tracks and stopping traffic when picking up students from their homes.

Kaufman noted that to be completely safe, all school buses here park on the side of the street on which students can just get right onto the bus from the sidewalk. This makes sure no student will have to cross a busy street to get onto a bus, as was the case with the crash that resulted in the deaths of the three elementary students. 

Kaufman has driven for 30 years, he said, and he has seen many people pass him even though his stop lights are on and the stop arm is out. Kaufman noted that Cathedral bus drivers, when they can, avoid picking up passengers on the street and pull in to parking lots or well off the road whenever they are able to do so. 

He also noted in a follow-up email that it is a challenge for drivers to get the license plate number of drivers who illegally go around stopped buses. 

At the base of the Hill on East 56th Street, a Lawrence Township bus often stops, and even with its lights on and stop arm displayed, students have been observed going around the bus to make their way up the Hill. Doing so is a violation of state law and can result in a fine of up to $10,000. 

State law necessitates that drivers on a four-lane street without a median, as is the case on East 56th Street in front of the school, must stop no matter in which direction they are traveling. The only exception is for a four-lane road with a concrete or grass median.