School’s back in session, pay attention driving

LABOR DAY IS BEHIND us, along with the major part of summer. Among other things, it means that children have gone back to school.

While many parents may be giving out rousing celebratory cheers, it’s an event all of us who drive should pay close attention to.

For we all have to be aware of school buses and children walking or riding bicycles to and from school.

“Children and teens don’t always pay attention to nearby traffic, so drivers should expect the unexpected,” Lt. Tony Burrell of the Wisconsin State Patrol Northeast Region Fond du Lac Post said in a press release urging drivers to be even more vigilant with school back in session.

He went on to say, “(Drivers) will need to slow down and proceed cautiously when approaching students who are walking or riding bikes. They also will need to be particularly careful around school buses that are loading or unloading passengers.”

That should be a given, but just to make sure, there are state laws governing such situations and violations of those laws can result in citations and fines.

For instance, state law says drivers must stop at least 20 feet from a stopped school bus with red warning lights flashing, whether the bus is on their side of the road, on the opposite side of the road or at an intersection the driver is approaching. The only exception is a school bus stopped on the other side of a divided roadway separated by a median or other physical barrier.

School bus drivers who see a vehicle pass their stopped bus illegally are authorized to report the violation to a law enforcement agency, which may issue a citation. The owner of the vehicle, whether they were driving or not, is responsible for paying the fine.

For students walking to school, drivers must yield to them – and any pedestrians – who started crossing an intersection or crosswalk on a walk signal or on a green light if there is no walk signal, who are crossing within a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection where there are no traffic lights or control signals, or when a vehicle is crossing a sidewalk or entering an alley or driveway. Drivers may not overtake and pass any vehicle that has stopped for pedestrians at an intersection or crosswalk.

When drivers are passing bicycles traveling in the same direction, they must leave a safe distance of no less than three feet clearance and must maintain that clearance until they have safely passed the bicycle.

It should be common sense and courtesy to follow these laws, but for those who don’t violations could result in fines from $175 to $326 and possible demerit points on their driver’s license.

It requires a little patience, caution and attention on the part of all drivers, but it’s worth it for the sake of the children.

At issue:
School children and traffific safety
Bottom line:
Know, obey the law

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