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Ask a Trooper: People need to watch out for school buses

Question: I am a school bus driver. I love my job and I love the kids, but some of the drivers we encounter on a daily basis are really getting to me.

People act like they don’t see the bus, and they don’t slow down when they are coming, so we can’t let the kids off the bus until we know they are going to stop. The ones that bother me the most are the creepers.

They stop initially, but then they keep creeping towards the bus, violating the 20 foot restriction required for them to stay back from the bus.

This creeping causes big problems. Please cover this situation and some general tips for drivers encountering school buses in one of your articles? I know it is going on all over the state. Thanks for whatever you can do. Maybe it will save a life.

Answer: I used to drive school bus (many years ago) so I know exactly what you are talking about.

 I also know there are a lot of other things you could talk about that other drivers are doing because I have been responding to school bus stop arm violations during my whole career.

It’s unimaginable, but a lot of people say they didn’t even see the bus.

Motorists need to pay attention to their driving, especially on school days during morning and afternoon school bus routes. School bus drivers are required to activate warning system yellow flashers at least 100 feet ahead of a stop when driving routes below 35 mph, and at least 300 feet on routes over 35 mph.

The yellow lights come on to warn drivers to be prepared to stop.

Stop means complete cessation of movement. When the bus stops, the bus driver opens the door, activates the stop arm and flashing red lights.

 It is against the law not to stop, and it is against the law to get within 20 feet of the bus during the display of the flashing red lights.

Drivers must stop and stay stopped, no creeping! Bus drivers can’t let the kids off the bus if you are still moving!

Motorists should be especially cautious as children are exiting the bus and crossing – this is the most dangerous situation for kids. Parents and caregivers should demonstrate how to cross safely and remind their children to check with the driver to make sure it’s safe to cross.

Thanks for asking about this very important issue.

— Sgt. Curtis S. Mowers works for the Minnesota State Patrol.