Editorial: Punishing those who illegally pass school buses - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Editorial: Punishing those who illegally pass school buses

Source: WBRC Source: WBRC

The following is an editorial from FOX6 WBRC-TV General Manager Lou Kirchen, first aired on Tuesday, August 19, 2014...

More than 350,000 Alabama children are transported on approximately 7,500 school buses each day. Question: why would a school bus be stopped on a road or highway with its safety lights blinking and or with its stop sign extended from the left side of the vehicle? You may say, 'That's obvious, Lou. The bus is either picking up or dropping off students at that stop.'

Obvious - really? Then why, when the Alabama State Department of Education just randomly picked a day to measure driving behavior around stopped school buses, did they findthat more than 1,700 vehicles illegally passed school buses. And that's with 18 school districts not reporting on that day. The vehicles involved were cars, vans, light trucks and heavy trucks.

And, you're not going to believe this. Eighty-nine percent of them passed on the right hand side. Pure lunacy!

You may say, 'Buses are slow moving and they stop a lot. I have to get to work, school or to my doctor's appointment. What is the big deal? Why should I have to stop?'

Well, first of all it's the law and it's the law for a good reason. You never know when a child will step out in front of a bus while trying to cross the road. In fact four children died last year; four young lives, needlessly lost.

What to do about this reckless disregard for the law? I say dramatically increase the penalty for breaking this law. The first time a driver illegally passes a stopped school bus, he pays a minimum fine of $1,000 and his license is suspended for a month. The second time he loses his driver's license for a year. Too harsh? What do you think?

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