During the school year, about six-hundred kids set foot on a Minot Public School bus each day. It’s up to the bus driver, and all other drivers around it, to keep those kids as safe as possible.
It’s a basic rule of the road, it’s a part of driver’s ed, but it’s not always practiced the way it should be: all drivers must stop for school buses that are loading or unloading students.
Although Minot Public Schools does not have district-wide busing, a fleet of 30 buses transport students every day.
Buses pick kids up, drop them off at seven schools throughout the day. They have hourly shuttles from one high school to another for classes. Buses to and from the Minot Air Force Base, plus extra-curricular like sports or after school activities.
That’s hundreds of kids, every day. But the biggest risk isn’t on the bus, it’s off of it.
Minot Public Schools official, Barry Brooks says, “More kids are killed or injured outside of a school bus because what happens is they get out of the bus and they walk across the street, a car comes, they don’t stop and hit the child.”
School Bus Driver, Ronald Kelly, says it hasn’t been a problem on his route, but that it is still a big concern.
“Because of the risk for the children crossing the street. Sometimes the student is on the driver’s side on the bus that they have to go, so they might be crossing the street in front of the vehicles. So they need to stop for the safety of the children,” says Kelly.
All drivers behind or coming toward school buses with red lights and an extended stop arm must make a complete stop until the lights are off and the sign is retracted.
Brooks says, “It’s just like being at a stoplight. It’s against the law to drive past or around the stopped school bus.”
Kelly explains, “We have a video camera on the side of the bus that videotapes the passer going by. Saying you will get caught if you pass the school bus illegally, and if you do, it’s a one hundred dollar fine and six points on your driver’s license.”
Brook offered advice to drivers, “As we get into the winter months, slow down. It takes a big bus a little longer to slow down and come to stop, just like your car. Just be cautious.”
Passing a school bus in either direction when it’s completely stopped with flashing lights and the stop arm extended is one of the most serious traffic violations throughout the state.
That’s why this week, the North Dakota Highway Patrol will partner with the Hazen School District for ‘trooper on a bus’ enforcement.
The trooper will get to see first hand what kind of violations bus drivers see on their routes and can quickly enforce the traffic violations they see.