Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson says a large number of county drivers are being ticketed for passing stopped school buses.
“We’ve had a problem with people driving around school buses for the past few weeks,” Dickinson recently told The Times. “We’ve been writing quite a few tickets from that.”
The sheriff reported that bus drivers had been filing numerous complaints about drivers passing stopped buses, typically in oncoming situations. Deputies have been tailing buses recently and catching numerous motorists in the act of passing stopped school buses.
Dickinson warned that this practice is not only illegal but also life-endangering.
“It is very dangerous. Especially this time of year when school buses are getting back on the road,” Dickinson said. “People are not used to seeing buses out on the road, and a lot of times they don’t realize what they’re doing until they’re doing it.”
If caught, the penalty for passing a stopped school bus is a hefty ticket, worth $657.
Itawamba County Bus Shop Manager Glyn Robinson agreed that reckless motorists are a real cause for concern, proving to be dangerous for school children getting on and off county buses.
“It’s frightening for the bus drivers. You got kids unloading and loading in the street, sometimes crossing in front of the bus,” Robinson explained. “We try to fix our bus routes to where the kids don’t have to cross in front of the bus, but sometimes it’s just not possible. People out driving need to be very cautious.”
Robinson asserted that many drivers don’t fully understand the laws regarding stopped school buses. All traffic must stop, he said, no matter if the roadway has two lanes or four lanes. The laws are in place to protect children, he said.
“We’re trying to do our best in keeping children safe, and the motoring public needs to do their best to help us reach that goal,” he said. “We tell our drivers before they let kids off that they make sure traffic is going to stop, but sometimes drivers will stop and then continue. It’s very dangerous.”
Dickinson concurred that passing a school bus is extremely irresponsible and puts children at risk.
“It’s very dangerous. Try to keep the school bus in mind because you never know what the child will do,” he said. “He or she may run out in front of you. People need to pay attention to the buses.”
Adam Armour can be reached at 862-3141, by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting his blog at itawamba360.com.
Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times