Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers are following school buses in Springfield this week to catch traffic violators and ensure student safety.
Stop on Red is the theme for the 2017 National Bus Safety Week. The goal of this week is to remind motorists and students about the dangers that exist outside of the school bus, according to the Ohio Department of Education.
Another goal is to make sure everyone gets on and off buses safely, said Sgt. Shane Meddock of the state patrol’s Springfield post.
“We are also looking at drivers who may or may not follow the rules,” Meddock said.
A lot of people don’t understand what they need to do when it comes to a stopped school bus, he said. Drivers must stop 10 feet prior to the bus or behind it when it has its red lights on and stop sign out.
“A lot of the complaints are when someone passes the school bus while the kids are getting on or off the bus,” Meddock said.
State troopers previously told the Springfield News-Sun that not all cars have to stop on a three-lane, one-way road like Columbia Street but that was incorrect. All lanes must stop, Meddock said.
For drivers on a two-lane, undivided street, opposing traffic must stop. But on a four-lane road with a divider or median, opposing traffic doesn’t have to stop.
A good rule of thumb is when you see the bus with yellow amber lights on, Meddock said that bus is about to make a stop. A stop only takes about 30 seconds, he said, and drivers can wait that long.
Drivers also must stop 10 feet behind the bus.
“When the bus stops and the red lights come on and the stop sign comes out, you have to stop for that,” Meddock said.
If a driver fails to yield to a bus when the lights are red and the stop sign is out, he said they risk received a $500 fine and having their license suspended.
No violations were found on the first day of school bus safety week but troopers and other law enforcement will continue to follow and ride buses until Friday.
One Springfield driver uses caution when buses are near and Meddock said that’s the best way to drive.
“I stop way far behind and give the kids plenty of time to cross the street,” Springfield resident Patricia Kepelinger said. “I don’t move until the bus is directly gone.”