Iowa State Patrol Trooper, Vince Kurtz, says avoid distractions is always important and especially when driving near a school.
“You just have to drive differently around school zones when the students are present…you never know when that child is going to step out off the curb or maybe in between a couple of parked cars that aren’t as visible,” Kurtz says.
He says you should slow down to 20 miles-an-hour, hang up the cell phone, and pay attention 100 percent of the time. Kurtz says if you encounter a school bus, watch for the yellow and then red flashing lights as it makes a stop.
“One of the biggest issues that motorists have with school buses stopping on the road is that a lot of people think the other direction — the opposing traffic — does not have to stop,” Kurtz says, “and that’s just not the case. Both directions of traffic have to stop for the stopped school bus.” Trooper says more buses are being equipped with cameras to help identify and catch violators. He says in recent years, legislators have passed laws to make the fines and punishment of passing a stopped school bus much stronger.
“It’s up to $750 for the first offense with a court appearance required. It’s also a 30-day license suspension, and something they’ve added…the possibility of 30 days in jail,” according to Kurtz. “And on top of that you’ve always got your insurance company that sees that violation as an extremely dangerous violation.” Kurtz says law officers will be doing extra patrols in school zones this week to watch for possible violators as schools get back in session.
(Reporting by Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars)