Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader took to Facebook over the weekend to remind drivers to obey the laws concerning school buses.

“I want to bring to everyone’s attention an issue we have started to receive involving stopped school buses,” Reader posted. “When a school bus is stopped and operating its red flashing lights to either pick up or drop off passengers, you are required to stop prior to reaching the bus.

“It is a misdemeanor crime to pass a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing. The Pike County Sheriff’s Office is going to ensure the safety of our children and will strictly enforce this violation. You will receive a maximum fine and if it’s not your first time a license suspension.

“I can say it’s not the fine you should be worried about. What you should be worried about is hitting a child who is crossing the street or road. This is what should be on everyone’s mind when approaching a school bus. Help us keep your children safe. Pay attention to your surroundings and stop when you see a school bus with its red lights flashing. Keeping Pike County a safe place to live, work and visit.”

According to the Ohio Revised Code 4511.75 Stopping for stopped school bus (A), ”The driver of a vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley upon meeting or overtaking from either direction any school bus stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school child, person attending programs offered by community boards of mental health and county boards of developmental disabilities, or child attending a program offered by a head start agency, shall stop at least ten feet from the front or rear of the school bus and shall not proceed until such school bus resumes motion, or until signaled by the school bus driver to proceed.

”It is no defense to a charge under this division that the school bus involved failed to display or be equipped with an automatically extended stop warning sign as required by division (B) of this section.”

During the recent National School Bus Safety Week, Oct. 22 — 26, the Ohio State Highway Patrol released a statement concerning this issue.

“Prior to stopping, school buses display yellow warning lights that signify the bus is about to stop,” the Patrol stated. “Once a bus stops, flashing lights and a stop sign are displayed. Motorists approaching a stopped school bus from either direction are required to stop at least 10 feet from the bus while the bus is receiving or discharging students. When a road is divided into four or more lanes, only traffic driving in the same direction as the bus must stop. Drivers may not resume their travels until the bus resumes traveling.”

According to the Patrol, “From 2015 to 2017, 4,198 drivers were convicted of failing to stop for a stopped school bus in Ohio. During the same time, 4,036 traffic crashes involving school buses occurred.”

The Patrol stated that the greatest risk to children is when they are outside the school bus.

“Students need to wait for the bus driver’s signal to cross and walk where the bus driver can see them,” according to the Patrol.

“School buses remain the safest mode of transportation for students to and from school,” said Colonel Paul A. Pride, Patrol superintendent. “Along with the watchful eyes of our school bus drivers, the cooperation of motorists, parents and children will make this a safe school year in Ohio.”

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