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Motorists must use caution around school buses

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By Ray Johnson

On Tuesday, Aug. 11, another year of school will begin. Everyone needs to remember to stop when they see a school bus on the streets of Cynthiana and the roads of Harrison County picking up or dropping off our children. Every year the Cynthiana Police Department and the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department receive complaints of motorists passing school buses while the bus’ lights are flashing and the arms on the front of the buses are extended out.

KRS 189.370 reads:

-If any school or church bus used in the transportation of children is stopped upon a highway for the purpose of receiving or discharging passengers, with the stop arm and signals activated, the operator of a vehicle approaching from any direction shall bring his vehicle to a stop and shall not proceed until the bus has completed receiving or discharging passengers and has been put into motion.

-If any vehicle is witnessed to be in violation of this law and the identity of the operator is not otherwise apparent, it will be presumed that the person in whose name the vehicle is registered or leased to was the operator of the vehicle at the time of the alleged violation and is subject to the penalties as provided for in KRS 189.990 (5) which states any person who violates 189.370 shall for the first offense be fined not less than $100 nor more than $200 or imprisoned not less than 30 days nor more than 60 days or both. For each subsequent offense occurring within three years, the person shall be fined not less than $300 nor more than $500 or imprisoned not less than 60 days nor more than six months, or both. The minimum fine for this violation shall not be subject to suspension. A minimum of six points shall be assessed against the driving record of any person convicted.

Anyone who is issued a uniform citation for this charge will have to appear in court and will be subject to court costs as well as the fine. This is not a pre-payable offense.

If the driver of a bus or the bus monitor witness a vehicle pass a bus and can get a license plate number, a complaint can be obtained from the county attorney and served on the vehicle owner if it is not known who the driver was at the time of the incident.

So, why would anyone want to pass a stopped school bus and take a chance of being caught and paying a hefty price in fines and receiving points on their license when they could have stopped and waited? What if a child runs across a street to get to the bus and the vehicle passing a stopped school bus does not see that child? This would not be a good situation. There are a lot of “what if’s.”

It would be much safer and easier if everyone would just stop and wait for the bus to load or unload and move before anyone proceeds. Drive smart and be alert. Quit being in a hurry and protect our children of this community.

At the same time, parents need to teach their children when and where to cross safely. Make sure that they look both ways before crossing a roadway.

When school starts, give yourself plenty of time to get to work or to school and pay very close attention when you are driving.

School bus drivers have a tough enough job driving these buses and getting around these roads and being responsible for your children; don’t make it tougher on them by passing them when they are stopped.

You may have thought you got away with the offense at the time you did it, but if someone wrote down your license plate, did you?