Bus drivers are taking tag numbers and identifying information and calling them in.
Drivers are not paying much attention to flashing lights and stop arms on school buses, according to Clint Jones, director of transportation for USD 382. The law requires that drivers following or approaching a school bus stop when red lights are flashing and the stop sign is extended. Jones was a little lenient in the first couple of weeks of school, he said, giving drivers time to adjust to school being in session again. At the end of four weeks, he's reporting violators to law enforcement.
Jones understands that in the mornings, people are concentrating on getting to work on time, or thinking of the day ahead, but they need to be aware that running a stop arm puts children at risk.
And it's expensive, if a ticket is issued. The Municipal Court levies a $300 fine and $80 court costs. Violations in the county cost even more — the fine in District Court is $315 plus $98 court costs. Police officers are not likely to give a warning, Pratt Police Chief Gary Myers said.
"There is no leniency on those violations," he said. "The last thing I want to see is some kid get hurt. You get people's attention when you start getting in their pockets."
No children have been injured when getting on or off the bus.
School buses are on rural roads as early as 6:30 a.m. and on city streets between 7:30 and 8. Buses are out again after 3:30 dismissal, but could be picking up and dropping off children throughout the day. Police officers patrol school zones and bus routes whenever possible, Myers said.
Reports submitted to the Tribune by the Police Department indicate that at 7:42 a.m. on Sept. 25 a driver went around a school bus stop sign at Sixth and Howard streets. On the 26th, a driver passed three school buses that had stopped to load or unload children at 3:45 p.m. in the 300 block of North Oak.
That's just a sampling of the violations, Jones said.
Kansas law requires that drivers approaching a bus from the rear stop when the red signal lights are flashing and remain stopped until the stop sign is retracted, lights are discontinued and the bus resumes motion, or until the bus driver signals that vehicles may proceed.
When meeting a bus, slow down when amber lights are flashing and stop when the red lights flash and the stop sign is extended. Do not move until lights are discontinued and the stop arm is retracted.
School zone signs are posted to let drivers know that a school is in the neighborhood, and that they should slow down and be watchful for children walking or on bicycles.
Page 2 of 2 - Flashing school zone lights are located at U.S. 54 and Washington Street, and to the east and west of Skyline School. The speed limit is posted, along with times for which reduced speed is required.