Editor’s Note: This column was originally published in August 2020.
School starts soon, and once again we will share our streets with those friendly, yellow buses. Many of us have fond memories of riding the school bus. Some of us had to sit every day in that seat right behind the driver—for good reasons.
In some places, groups of children gather at a spot for their regular stop. On other routes, the bus stops at every house to pick up or drop off a child. It always makes me smile to see the little ones skipping, hopping, and walking across the street. Some wear backpacks bigger than them.
Every year I get to meet drivers who receive tickets for violating Ohio Revised Code Section 4511.75, “Stopping for stopped school bus.” Most of them are good drivers, who just don’t understand the rule.
Some say the bus didn’t have its lights on. Some swear that the little stop sign on the side of the bus was not out. Some say that they didn’t see any children anywhere near that bus.
The rule is simple: IF THE BUS STOPS, YOU MUST STOP.
It doesn’t matter if the lights flash. It doesn’t matter if the little sign pops out. It doesn’t matter if there are children or not. Stop your car.
This law carries some serious penalties. It should. Children are completely defenseless against moving cars, and many of them do not have the maturity to watch out for themselves — so we all must watch out for them.
If you are cited for failing to stop for a stopped school bus, you can’t just pay the ticket. You must go to court in person. If you are found guilty, you may be fined up to $500, plus court costs. Your driver’s license may be suspended for up to one year.
Those are serious consequences, which could make your life really hard. Unfortunately, they do not compare to the serious consequences which happen when a little child is hit by a car.
Please watch carefully when you see buses. Treat them differently than you treat other vehicles.
Treat the drivers differently, too. They safely pilot the most distracting people on earth to their destination. They weave a gigantic vehicle through streets designed for passenger cars. They work in all kinds of weather, whether they feel good or not, and they don’t get paid nearly as much as they are worth.
They gladly take that responsibility and hard work because they love your children. Show them respect.
Mike Daugherty is Judge of the Clinton County Municipal Court.