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Too many motorists not obeying bus stop signs...

When it comes to the safety of school children, we like to think we’re all concerned. But when we are late for work, clocking in sometimes becomes a higher priority.

4/10/18 (Tue)

When it comes to the safety of school children, we like to think we’re all concerned. But when we are late for work, clocking in sometimes becomes a higher priority.

When that happens it becomes a safety issue, according to two Kenmare school bus drivers. Both have seen numerous people disobey the yellow flashing caution lights as well as the red flashing stop lights and stop sign that is displayed when the bus doors are open.

All too often young children will cross the street, which is precisely why the warning signs are mounted on a bus.

“We have enough to worry about as bus drivers,” Joddy Meidinger said. “We have to know the road and where the kids are, let alone traffic passing us. People can’t wait and you know how kids are. Kids are going to be kids.”

According to KFGO radio in Fargo, a motorist was arrested and jail time recommended for going around a school bus while it was stopped with it’s stop sign displayed.

The semi driver was sentenced to two weekends in jail and was fined $500 for disobeying the stop sign that a Norman County, Minnesota bus driver had displayed.

Media reports in Minot suggest that people will often go around stopped buses at John Hoeven Elementary School, much to the chagrin of parents, bus drivers and school administrators.

KCCT-TV in Rochester, Minn., reported last week that law enforcement in Mason City, Iowa are working on ways to stop people from disregarding stopped school buses in the city of Mason City.

“The yellow light comes on and it’s a caution, but you might as well stop,” Meidinger said. “We open the door and the stop sign comes out and people just don’t get it.”

The drivers meet every month and Meidinger said this situation is always the most frustrating. He said the drivers have talked to law enforcement on the city and county level, but little is done since it happens sporadically and the police can’t be watching 100 percent of the time.

Meidinger also sees the problem playing out at railroad crossings, but said in that case, the danger is getting rear-ended or colliding with another vehicle as opposed to a child getting hit when a motorist goes around a bus.

“The priority is safety,” Meidinger said. “When you get to the crossing, you’re worried about trains and you’re worried about the kids. You shouldn’t have to be worried about motorists. There’s a reason that solid yellow line is there. It means you don’t pass.”

Meidinger clarified that most of the traveling public is really good and will give the school bus and the children a benefit of a doubt. He said some will go as far as to pull over and slow down to allow the bus to pass and still others will do anything to help out and make sure the children get to school and home safely.

He said those who spoil it, are young and old so it’s not a generational thing and we can’t blame one group of people.

When Meidinger’s bus is full, there are approximately 20 students on the bus, most of them young children.

“Mistakes are more likely to happen if we’re watching other drivers,” he said. “It’s a simple thing. Lights are flashing and it’s a yellow bus.”

Marshall Johnson has seen his share of motorists going around his bus, but Johnson’s situation is somewhat different in that he sees it almost exclusively in the city of Kenmare.

He too has about 20 kids on his bus and for him, it happens on Central Avenue and Third Street, in front of the Memorial Hall when he’s dropping kids off for events in Memorial Hall.

“People apparently don’t realize red means stop,” Johnson said. “People just don’t pay attention.”

Johnson said he has talked to local law enforcement and they will watch from a distance, but the timing of catching a violator isn’t always ideal.

“It may not happen for a week, then it’s three or four days in a row,” Johnson said. “Red means stop.”

Meidinger, who wanted to make it clear that most of the traffic is really good about obeying the signs, added this is a reminder to the community that we’re all responsible.

God forbid a child would be struck by a passing car, but if that were to happen, the other kids on the bus would most likely see it and be distraught because of it.

The other part of that equation is that the driver who struck the child would have to deal with that for the rest of their life, all because they may have been late for work, or something like it.

“Be responsible,” Meidinger said. “It just takes a couple of minutes. Just wait. Two minutes isn’t going to make that much of a difference.” ... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!