Just Like the Sign Says: STOP for the Bus
Several drivers, distracted or just clueless, ran past school buses this week that had their stop arms out, and lights activated. Drivers must stop on both sides of the road for school buses, unless there is a raised median between lanes.
The parents were angry, the bus driver more so. At least two drivers sped past a school bus on Camp Street this week, which had stopped to pick up a child who needed to cross the road.
It happened several times Tuesday, the first day of school in Milford, during the morning rush hour. And it isn't the first time this has been reported. Last spring, a man called police after seeing drivers ignore a stopped school bus on Depot Street.
Parents say the drivers are either distracted or purposefully ignoring the stopped bus. They keep going, even though state law requires drivers to stop on both sides of the road.
On Tuesday morning, Beth Fraser said she watched as two cars zipped past the bus on Camp Street, while her two sons waited to cross the street. "They didn't seem to be concerned," she said, of the drivers' expressions.
Drivers who do this risk the obvious: hitting a child. They also could be fined if caught. The fee for not stopping for a stopped school bus is $250. But when cars are speeding by, parents say they haven't been able to remember plate numbers.
Several roads in Milford are hot-spots for morning commuters. Now that school buses are making the rounds, during rush hour, traffic flow is coming to a halt on busy roads. Commuters need to take the potential for getting caught behind the school bus into account and adjust their schedules.
On Camp Street, where several parents witnessed the incidents this week, the drivers were heading down Camp Street to Purchase Street, presumably heading to Interstate 495.
"I think they're rushing to get to work, and think that takes precedence over a child's safety," said Fraser, who's lived on Camp Street for 10 years. In that time, speeding has become more of a problem on the road, she said. And in recent years, she's witnessed more drivers passing the bus.
Last year, a woman who was distracted almost hit it.
The woman was looking down at her phone, and almost rammed the back of the bus, which had stopped to collect children. Fraser said she tapped on the woman's window: "What are you doing on your phone?"
For people whose skills around buses are rusty, here are the basics:
- Give the bus some room. State law requires drivers to stay 100 feet behind the bus at all times.
- Yellow flashing lights signal the bus is slowing down to stop. You need to slow, too.
- Red flashing lights and an extended arm indicate the bus is stopped to let children on or off. By this point, your vehicle needs to be at a full stop.
- Cars need to stop behind the school bus, in both lanes if there is a double lane. And they also need to stop on the opposite side of the road, to allow kids to cross the road safely.
- Cars on the other side of the road do not have to stop if there is a raised median separating the two sides of the road.
- Do not start driving again until the stop arm folds back up and the bus starts moving.
- A first violation of state law concerning motor vehicle operation around school buses can cause a license suspension and a $250 fine.
- Even after the warning signals have stopped, you should proceed slowly and continue to look for children. Sometimes they're running late, and running toward a bus that's already leaving.