Since the start of the school year, law enforcement officials in the state of Illinois are noticing the continuation of a disturbing occurrence. Many drivers are violating the law and are simply not stopping for school buses across the state. According to a news article recently published, police officers are considering this practice a sign of trouble.
Officers have apparently reported seeing a car illegally pass a school bus while in the process of picking up or dropping off students a few times a week throughout the school year. This violation happens all across the town of Danville, Illinois, and undoubtedly occurs in other communities throughout the state as well. Despite the fact that on many of these occasions, the school buses have stop arms out and lights flashing, as well as posted signs instructing motorists not to pass buses, the violations still occur. Some drivers pass the buses in the farthest left lane and may think that is acceptable; the fact is, however, it is not.
Officials are saying that the reasons for the violations are either due to drivers not paying attention, or simply not caring. Many are asking what it will take to curb this behavior before a serious injury is caused as a result of it. It is important to note that certain school districts have experienced significantly more of these violations than others. For example, in Danville, 23 citations for such violations have been issued since school started in August, but many districts are reporting an increase in the number of such violations from last year.
Fortunately, none of these incidents involved accidents or injuries involving students, but that has not always been the case. Last year, such violations involving vehicles and school buses resulted in several serious accidents. In one case, a kindergarten student was taken to the hospital for treatment for injuries.
According to the relevant law in Illinois on the subject, drivers are required to stop when a school bus makes a stop on a two-lane road to either pick up or drop off students. When a school bus stops for the same reason on a four-lane highway, only drivers who are traveling in the same direction as the bus must stop. Drivers are not allowed to continue until the bus's flashing lights stop and the stop arm is retracted, or until they are signaled to proceed by the bus driver.
Those who violate the law can face a $100 fine and face a license suspension of a maximum of three months for the first offense. Subsequent offenses can be punished with a maximum $500 fine and up to a one-year license suspension. Despite these relatively strict penalties, bus drivers are voicing the opinion that not enough drivers abide by the law, either because they are unaware it exists or take it seriously.
While a number of violations have ended in an accident, several have resulted in extremely close calls. Bus drivers in several communities are saying that they witnessed near misses in the recent past involving students and violators. In many of these cases, students were alerted to the danger from the school bus driver, who watched as the violation occurred. Also in many of these cases, the violators were never caught. This fact is prompting many school districts to install video surveillance cameras in school buses that were not previously outfitted with the equipment in an effort to catch and apprehend violators.
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