School starts Tuesday in Brainerd and many other area school districts and that means the morning commute will soon include the bright yellow school buses with sometimes inattentive school children boarding and exiting the vehicles.
Motorists can’t assume young bus riders will pay attention to traffic or will act in a predictable fashion. No matter how many times school children are reminded, the burden will always be on the drivers to take care and watch when children are present around buses and traffic.
The Minnesota School Bus Operator’s Association distributed information that serves as a reminder of the precautions motorists should take when encountering a school bus. Here is a breakdown of the simple rules needed to help keep children safe this school year:
• Flashing yellow lights mean a bus is going to stop. A driver behind the bus must slow down, prepare to stop and not attempt to pass the bus. In Minnesota, it is illegal to pass on the right hand (door) side of a bus with either flashing yellow or red lights.
• When a stop arm is out, every driver behind the bus or oncoming must come to a complete stop 20 feet away from the bus. The driver cannot move the vehicle until the stop arm is retracted and the red lights are no longer flashing.
Violators of this law are guilty of a misdemeanor and may be punished with a fine of not less than $300.
The slight delays motorists might encounter by following the law are a minor inconvenience compared to the possible tragedy of hurting a child who is going to or coming from school. Stay alert for school buses and follow the law.