Tragedies are often grim reminders to obey the law.
Such is the case after five children were killed and seven injured the week of Oct. 29 when they were struck by drivers near school bus stops, according to authorities.
The accidents happened in Indiana, Mississippi, Florida and Pennsylvania.
In Indiana, Alivia Stahl, 9, and her twin brothers, Mason and Xzavier Ingle, 6, were fatally struck by a pickup truck. Stahl’s uncle told the media that she held her brothers’ hands and shielded them from the truck.
The 24-year-old driver of the truck was charged with three counts of felony reckless homicide and misdemeanor for passing a school bus with its safety arm extended.
In Florida, a 19-year-old man allegedly struck and injured a kindergartener after realizing too late that the bus was stopped with its arm extended.
When a school bus has its safety arm extended—with a stop sign clearly displayed—drivers must obey the law and stop their vehicles.
Several local schools are in the middle of residential areas, which creates traffic jams on side streets during drop-off and pickup hours. Schools try to follow organized plans to get students to and from vehicles safety while keeping traffic moving, and drivers need to do their part.
The same goes for driving on busy streets such as Western Avenue, where drivers should be wary of passengers exiting parked vehicles and pedestrians crossing the street.
In Illinois, a conviction for passing a stopped school bus results in a fine of $150 and a driver’s license suspension of three months; a second conviction results in a $500 fine, and if it occurs within five years of the first conviction, a one-year driver’s license suspension is enforced.
Drivers should also be wary of driving in school zones, where the speed limit is 20 miles per hour.
According to an August report, police in suburban Palos Park issued five tickets early in the school year to drivers who drove around stopped school buses. Officers were riding on the buses to alert police units of the offenders.
Stopping for a few seconds to allow children to enter and exit their school buses should be something all drivers have no problem doing—not because of the legal consequences, but because they want to keep children safe.