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Don’t pass that bus!

By Staff | Sep 27, 2008

The wording on the back door of the bus says it all, “Unlawful to pass when lights flash.” EDN photo by David Swartz

It’s a frazzled start to a bad day where being late is the overwhelming theme.

Darn it! The school bus ahead is slowing down with its bright amber lights flashing and that means it is going to stop when the red lights flash and the driver extends the stop arm.

No one will care if I pass the bus … just this once, I mean, I cannot be late for work anymore …

According to the Iowa Code, the smart thing for the tardy driver to do is take the lumps from the employer and be late for work.

Section 321.372A notes the school bus driver who observes any driver failing to obey the school bus warning devices by slowing down or stopping all together can prepare a written report describing the violation.

The report is then turned over to a peace officer who will initiate an investigation into the reported violation.

“We have had four com plaints in the first two weeks of this school year,” said Emmet County Sheriff Larry Lamack. All four were reported by bus drivers for the Estherville Lincoln Central Community School District.

“Once we receive a violation report and follow it up with an investigation, we return a copy of the report back to the school with our findings,” he explained.

If it is determined the driver has violated the statute, a citation can be issued. “This would be a simple misdemeanor and the individual would have to appear before the Emmet County magistrate to answer to the charge.”

The law is written with only one thought in mind-child safety.

“Traffic from both directions must prepare to stop for a school bus when the amber lights are flashing and come to a complete stop. Vehicles behind the school bus must remain stopped while the stop arm is extended on the school bus because we want to protect our children who are either entering or exiting the school bus and/or crossing the road,” Lamack said.

He drove the point that once the ambers begin flashing, drivers must slow down and be prepared to come to a full and complete stop when the red lights start blinking on the back of the bus. “The lights are signaling slow followed by full stop. The lights do not mean ‘pass me.'”

The sheriff also said that the code has specific guidelines if the driver of the vehicle in question cannot be identified.

The code reads: “If, from the investigation, the peace officer has reasonable cause to believe that a violation has occurred but is unable to identify the driver, the peace officers shall serve a uniform traffic citation for the violation to the owner of the motor vehicle.”