September 27, 2022

Back to school safety

School bus safety

As unbelievable as it is, back-to-school time is here. School buses will return to our streets on Tuesday, Aug. 23 and the Osceola Police Department is reminding motorists of the rules for approaching and passing school buses.

Passing a school bus when the amber (yellow) flashing lights are activated is illegal. Amber flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists driving behind the bus should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles when the amber lights are activated. Motorists approaching school buses from the front of the bus should reduce their vehicle speed to not more than 20 mph and prepare to stop. The only exception to this is if there are two or more lanes of traffic in each direction, which then only the vehicles passing from behind the school bus needs to stop.

Passing a school bus when the red flashing lights are activated is illegal. When the red lights flash and the stop arm extends, drivers in both directions must stop. The only exception to this is if there are two or more lanes of traffic in each direction, which then only the vehicles passing from behind the school bus needs to stop.

Any time a school bus is stopped with the red flashing lights activated and the stop arm extended, there are students loading or unloading. Motorists should use extreme caution during this time as students may be running to or from the school bus.

Never pass on the right side of the bus as this is the side children enter or exit the bus. This is illegal and can have tragic results.

Once the students are discharged or loaded and the flashing lights are turned off and the stop arm is retracted, traffic may return to normal.

School bus drivers will report motorists who are in violation of the law to law enforcement and law enforcement will investigate the incident. If the investigating officer has reasonable cause to believe a violation occurred, the officer will issue a ticket to the driver of the vehicle or the registered owner of the vehicle if the identity of the driver cannot be determined. Fines for passing a school bus start at $250. If the driver is convicted of the charge, there is a mandatory 30 day suspension, a reinstatement fee and the driver may be required to re-test with the DOT to get their license back. Violators may also be required to purchase SR-22 high risk vehicle insurance.

Crosswalk Safety

There are two items of note at the intersection of Kossuth Street and Highway 34: One is the reduced 25mph speed limit that is in place when the caution lights are flashing; second, is the flashing lights themselves.

The reduced speed limit is in place only when the lights are flashing. The lights flash twice daily from 7:30 a.m., to 8:00 a.m., then again from 2:30 p.m., to 3:30 p.m. The lights are also programmed to flash at appropriate times for scheduled early outs and to not flash for scheduled no school days. The lights have the ability to be manually operated to allow for early out days due to weather. Of course, they will operate as a normal cross walk light if the button on the post is activated. The portable flashing stop signs that will be in the middle of Highway 34, and crossing guards will assist children across the highway and have the handheld stop signs.

Clarke Elementary has had in place for some time a one-way street designation that goes into effect at noon and ends at 4:30 p.m., on school days only. This has been done to assist with the heavy traffic that occurs at school dismissal time. If followed by everyone it works quite well.

At noon on every school day East Jefferson Street becomes a one-way street for west bound traffic only and reverts to a two-way street at 4:30 p.m., each day. Again this only occurs on school days and begins at noon and ends at 4:30 p.m.