Drivers warned to watch out for buses


CHARLESTON, Ill. (WCIA) — Police are reminding people to pay attention around school buses on one stretch of road. They say drivers there are not stopping when they see flashing yellow or red lights. Some are even trying to pass buses and stopping in front of them. It’s putting kid’s lives at risk.

Bus drivers say it’s happening in the 1500 block of 18th street. They think some drivers just don’t understand the rules regarding passing a school bus. Others, they say, just aren’t paying attention.

“That’s why they’re yellow — to catch everybody’s attention,” said bus driver Tina Hill.

But for some reason, drivers on one Charleston road are missing them. Or at least… they aren’t stopping when their lights flash yellow or for this bright red sign.

“They’ve even gotten as bad as to stop, and come around behind us, to the turning lane, and over,” said bus driver Donna Bertrand.

That kind of negligence is what has Hill and Bertrand fed up.

“It only takes a second or two if they’re not paying attention and they’re looking down. It just takes a second or two to either run into the bus or hit a child,” Bertrand.

“Almost every day that school is in session, we’re getting reports of stop arms violations,” said Charleston Juvenile Officer Erica Roa. “We’ve noticed an increasing amount of it in one particular area here in town.”

That area she’s talking about is 18th street. It’s a two-lane road with turn lanes.

“People think that there’s a turn lane in particular areas of town, and think that that turn lane counts as a lane. The law clearly states that you have to have four lanes of traffic in order for you to be able to pass the bus if you’re coming the opposite direction,” said Roa.

To help, police are stepping up patrols. “We always ask people when we stop them, we say, you know, ‘Hey, is there a reason for that?’ And a lot of times it’s either, ‘Hey I’m running late’ or ‘I just wasn’t paying attention,'” said Roa.

But police and bus drivers know there’s no good excuse for putting kids lives in danger. “What if it was your child on that bus? Wouldn’t you want him or her to be safe?” said Tina Hill.

Police have handed out 15 citations for bus arm violations just since the start of 2020. Drivers who violate it could have their license suspended.

Passing a school bus with its stop arm out is only allowed on four lane roads and that’s only if you’re driving the opposite way. It is never legal to pass a school bus with its stop arm out if you’re behind it.

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