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Drivers must watch for kids near buses

Dear Lawyer Mark: I am a school bus driver.

With school beginning to start, I was wondering if you could remind everyone what the laws are when a school bus is stopped?

Nothing makes me madder than for a person to go flying around a stopped school bus.
It could be their children that are getting off the bus. — Concerned Bus Driver

Dear Concerned: It seems like everyone these days is in such a hurry that some believe they can drive 50 mph in town, and a stop sign somehow transforms into a “yield, but only if you want to” sign.

As bad and dangerous as these are, few traffic violations are worse than passing a stopped school bus. Anytime children are in an area, drivers should be prepared for the unexpected.

It is not uncommon that a child may be running to catch a bus, or walk out in front of a bus to cross a street when unloading.

Should a driver injure or kill a child in these circumstances, the criminal penalties could run all the way up to a potential homicide charge, not to mention the civil suits that would surely follow. Between 2006 to 2015, there were 102 fatalities of school age children who were killed walking near a school bus.

The law is quite clear on when a car should stop: in the event the bus is loading or unloading children on a one- or two-lane roadway, traffic shall stop at least 10 feet in front or behind the bus, depending on the direction of travel. In the event the bus is on a four-lane or divided highway, only the traffic flowing in the same direction must stop, oncoming traffic can continue to move.

Once stopped, traffic cannot continue until the bus resumes motion, or the bus driver signals you to proceed.

Under Revised Code Section 4511.751 the bus driver is required to report the license number and descriptions of the vehicle and driver to the appropriate police department, who will issue a citation to the driver.

Although a violation of the above is not a jailable offense, an offender must personally appear in court to answer, will be fined in an amount up to $500 plus court costs, and can have their license suspended for up to one year.

To those who would pass a stopped school bus, please give them a brake. If the penalties above aren’t enough to deter you, just think – it might be your child, nephew or niece getting ready to step out from in front of the bus.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” – Aristotle

It’s The Law is written by attorney Mark K. McCown in response to legal questions received by him. If you have a question, please forward it to Mark K. McCown, 311 Park Avenue, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or e-mail it to him at LawyerMark@yahoo.com. The right to condense and/or edit all questions is reserved.