By ANDY GOODELL
The Oskaloosa Herald
The Oskaloosa Police Department would like to continue to remind drivers to be aware of school buses and the children that ride them.
On Wednesday morning, OPD Lt. Craig Alexander said there had been five bus passing violations reported to the OPD this school year, which began Aug. 20. Alexander said bus drivers try to get the license plate numbers of vehicles that pass them unlawfully.
Drivers who unlawfully pass school buses can be given a citation, said Alexander, who serves as the school resource officer. Those who pass school buses unlawfully can also have their drivers license suspended for 30 days and a fine of $250 to $650. Alexander also noted that their is the potential that those who pass school buses unlawfully can go to jail.
Alexander encouraged drivers to consider avoiding driving through where there are bus stops, if possible. Those interested in knowing where the bus stops are can contact the OPD at 673-3201.
Alexander also noted that about 150 feet before a school bus makes a stop, it’s lights will start to flash to indicate a stop is coming up. At that point, it is unlawful to pass the bus, Alexander said.
Most school buses only need to stop for 30 seconds to a minute at each stop, said Alexander.
Dale Nelson, maintenance and transportation director for Oskaloosa Community School District, said the main reason why drivers need to pay attention to school buses and their passengers is for the safety of the children.
Nelson said there are approximately 30 school bus stops made by Oskaloosa School District buses. There are both morning and afternoon routes taken by these buses, as well as preschool routes during the day, said Nelson.
In an OPD press release, which ran in the Herald Aug. 10, the motoring public was advised they can help reduce the risk to children going to and from school by:
• Obeying school bus stop laws — it is unlawful to pass a school bus from either direction when red or amber warning signals are flashing. The driver of a vehicle shall stop no closer than 15 feet from the school bus. This law applies to all bus stops, even in town. There are approximately 30 bus stops throughout Oskaloosa, with the largest stops being at all the former elementary schools. During the 2011-12 school year 10 citations were issued for “unlawful passing of a school bus.”
• Avoiding school zones and bus stops during arrival and dismissal times, 7:25 a.m. – 8 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. – 4 p.m.
• Slowing down in school and residential areas
• Watching for clues that warn of children in the area such as bikes, school buses and school crossing signs
• Clearing fog and snow/ice covered windows before driving
• Obeying all traffic laws
• Never discharge or pick up students in the middle of the road, always pull to the curb and have them cross at the appropriate crosswalk
In the OPD press release, Alexander suggests that all parents instruct their children in the following areas:
• Good citizenship at their bus stop – No “bullying” or “horseplay”
• Safe street crossing practices
• Walk their route to school or bus stop several times before school begins
• Never enter the roadway from between parked cars
• Where there is no sidewalk and it is necessary to walk in the road, walk to the far left side, facing traffic
• Use crosswalks and designated school crossings whenever possible
• If your student drives or rides a bike, constantly remind them to obey all traffic laws
• Remind them of “stranger danger” rules
Herald City Editor Andy Goodell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.