Reminders and What's New on the Road

Brush Up on School Bus Rules of Road
Posted on 08/08/2019
Image of School Bus(Cassaundra Smith for Akron.com/West Side Leader)

With the start of school comes the return of buses out on the roads. And with that may come some confusion over Ohio school bus traffic laws.

According to a posting on the Copley Township website, school bus traffic laws are in effect for the safety of children or other passengers entering or leaving a school bus. Children often will be crossing the street at the bus stop, so these laws are extremely important for their safety. In Ohio, school bus traffic laws vary depending on the size of the road.

On a road with fewer than four lanes, all traffic approaching a stopped school bus from either direction must stop at least 10 feet from the front or rear of the bus and remain stopped until the bus begins to move or the bus driver signals motorists to proceed. If the bus is stopped on a street with four or more lanes, only traffic proceeding in the same direction as the bus must stop, states the post, which cites Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 4511.75.

The same applies for a divided highway of four or more lanes, according to the ORC.

Also according to the Copley post, a school bus doesn’t have to be equipped with an extending stop safety sign in order for traffic to stop. When bus lights are flashing, this is sufficient to signal drivers that they need to stop, as the bus is loading or unloading passengers. The amber and red visual signals required for a school bus are listed in ORC Section 4511.771.

According to Akron Police Department (APD) Traffic Commander Lt. Richard Decatur, under the ORC, a driver who fails to stop as directed can receive a fine of up to $500. Drivers receiving a fine for violating ORC 4511.75 must appear before court to answer the charge, and the courts can suspend the offender’s driving privilege for six months.

ORC 4511.75 is the only traffic violation that does not require a police officer to witness the actual violation. If a driver runs a stop sign or makes an illegal turn, for example, an officer must witness the violation in order to issue a traffic citation unless the driver was involved in an accident and there are witnesses that observed the violation; the driver admits to the violation; or there is evidence at the scene of the accident that proves the driver committed a violation, Decatur stated.

According to Bill Holland, inspector with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, bus drivers can fill out a complaint form, and if they get the license plate number and a good look at the driver, a citation can be issued to offenders.

According to Decatur, school bus drivers for Akron Public Schools (APS) are trained to recognize and report violations of ORC 4511.75. Over the past four years, an average of 105 school bus violations were reported to APD for investigation each school year.

“The importance of stopping for school buses cannot be over stressed,” Decatur said. “The amount of time that it takes to drop off or pick up students is minimal. The life of a child is infinitely more important [than] the few seconds that a driver may attempt to gain by driving past a stopped school bus. When approaching a stopped school bus, please exercise patience. It may save a life.”

Holland believes a large part of the problem comes from people not being knowledgeable about school bus laws in Ohio. More information on that can be found at codes.ohio.gov.

According to APS Transportation Services Coordinator William Andexler and Highland Local Schools Transportation Supervisor Debbie Parker, the problem with people not following school bus laws has increased in recent years.

Andexler said he believes distracted driving due to cellphone use is a cause of the increase in carelessness. In addition to people ignoring the school bus red lights and stop signs, as well as issues with speeding, APS has experienced a problem with drivers rear-ending school buses.

“You look at it and go, ‘How can you not see this big yellow thing with flashing lights,’” he said.

APS has some buses equipped with internal cameras that record video through the windshield and allows transportation officials to see what the bus driver sees. Andexler reported the district has a good relationship with APD when it comes to officers pursuing issues that APS reports.

Parker reported issues with people not stopping for school buses as well. Highland also has had problems with people running roadway stop signs in order to not get stuck driving behind a bus.

“People will do whatever they can do to not get behind a bus,” she said.

Parker noted the district works with the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) and has two buses equipped with external cameras to help capture license plate numbers of offending drivers.

According to the OSHP, from 2016 through 2018, 3,962 traffic crashes involved school buses in Ohio. During this time, four fatal crashes occurred, killing four and injuring 1,268. None of those killed were on a school bus.

OSHP officials remind motorists to plan ahead and allow extra time for school bus stops.

School buses are required to be inspected twice a year to ensure the bus is operating properly. Every bus used to transport students is inspected before the beginning of the school year and once randomly during the year. From 2016 through 2018, the OSHP performed 121,876 inspections.

For a complete statistical breakdown of school bus inspections, crashes and passing stopped school bus violations, visit statepatrol.ohio.gov.

“Safety on the roadway is a shared responsibility by school bus drivers and motorists,” said Lt. Antonio Matos, commander of the Akron Post. “Motorists should always exercise caution while children are boarding and exiting school buses.”
Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2019 West Corporation. All rights reserved.