School transporters and law enforcement officers in Wisconsin are promoting the importance of stopping for school buses this week.
Wisconsin Operation Safe Stop Week is a joint effort of school bus operations in the state, the Wisconsin School Bus Association, and the Wisconsin State Patrol.
Officers throughout the state are stepping up enforcement to crack down on motorists illegally passing school buses.
According to the Wisconsin School Bus Association, an estimated 828 vehicles per day illegally pass school buses in the state. Wisconsin has more than 13,000 school buses transporting about 515,000 students to and from school daily.
Oak Creek-based Go Riteway Transportation Group is among the school bus contractors participating in Wisconsin Operation Safe Stop Week. The company issued a press release with tips for motorists approaching stopped school buses.
“We’re proud to take part in this very important program,” said David Butcher, vice president of safety for Go Riteway. “With the new school year starting, it’s critical to remind drivers that school buses are on the road again and that they need to obey the flashing lights indicating children are either getting on or off the bus.”
Along those lines, the Wisconsin State Patrol dedicated its “Law of the Month” for September to the rules designed to protect students as they travel to and from school.
“Children aren’t always thinking about their own safety, so drivers need to be alert and cautious at all times,” State Patrol Superintendent J.D. Lind said. “This includes being ready to stop when school buses load and unload passengers, and to watch for children who are walking or biking.”
State law requires drivers to stop at least 20 feet from a stopped school bus that has its red warning lights flashing and stop arm extended. The law applies when approaching a school bus from either direction, except for motorists on the opposite side of a roadway that is divided by a median or other physical barrier.
School bus drivers in Wisconsin are authorized to report stop-arm violations to law enforcement. The infraction can result in a fine of $326. The vehicle owner can be held responsible even if he or she wasn’t the offending driver.