Next week the Ohio State Highway Patrol will shadow school bus routes — some troopers will even be assigned to ride inside buses — as part of National School Bus Safety Week.
The initiative will run through Friday. The patrol released Friday dash cam video of a semi tractor-trailer disregarding a stopped Indian Lake school bus in Logan County. The driver passed the bus and the video showed that he was cited for doing it.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 24 children die in school transportation-related crashes each year.
Kim Fish, district spokeswoman for Springfield City Schools, said occasionally buses are involved in “fender benders” but the district has been fortunate.
“We do everything we can but the team extends outside of us to other drivers,” she said. “Slow down … especially when it’s wet or foggy.”
Authorities say children are often in danger when they’re either boarding or getting off buses as they’re stopped. Between 2010 and 2012, troopers in Ohio cited 4,176 drivers for failing to stop for school buses.
And unlike traditional speeding tickets, those citations require mandatory court appearances.
“If you do pass a stopped bus, you will be in front of the judge or magistrate and explaining why you went (by) it,” said Sgt. Jeff Kramer of the Montgomery County post of the Highway Patrol.
Benny Isabell, a bus driver of five years for Huber Heights City Schools, said drivers pass stopped buses all the time. He tries his best to get a licence plate number when they do. Under Ohio law, bus drivers can contact local authorities with a licence plate number and brief description of the vehicle. Officers then have the power to issue misdemeanor citations without having actually witnessed the incident themselves.
“Huber Heights police follow up on it regularly,” he said. “People cut you off. All they want to do is get in front of the bus.
“They don’t realize how dangerous that actually is.”