By Erin Hassanzadeh

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Wisconsin community is mourning after a pickup tried to pass a stopped school bus on the right side, hitting and killing a six-year-old student.

Sadly, school bus stop-arm violations are not uncommon. In 2019, there were 1,174 stop-arm violations in Minnesota.

Recently, there has consistently been at least 1,000 violations every year.

“He had to like jump out of the way and it hit the girl,” Edina resident Lonnie East.

Just last month an Edina high school student was hit trying to get on her bus.

“A vehicle that was also southbound also passed the school bus on the right side partially up on the sidewalk here and struck that student,” Edina Police Sgt. Aaron White said.

This fall, one group decided to try something new to end stop-arm violations it involved the installation of these little lights.

“As the vehicles are approaching the bus, and when these lights are on, they pop,” American Student Transportation Terminal Manager Chelaine Crego said.

Twelve buses in the American Student Transportation fleet are now decked out with six extra LED lights per bus that are at eye-level with most drivers.

Crego says since installing the lights stop-arm violations are down. However, Crego says many drivers still don’t understand the law.

“There are a few vehicles that will stop like a stop sign and then continue, they don’t even understand that there could be a student crossing in front of that bus,” Crego said.

Minnesota law requires drivers to stop at least 20 feet from a school bus displaying red flashing lights or a stop arm — that’s when approaching from the back or front of the bus on undivided roads.

The fine for failing to do so is $500.

More reminders from the Dept. of Public Safety:

Statewide stop-arm violations

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

1,240

1,153

1,120

1,076

1,174

State law requires all vehicles to stop for school buses when the bus driver activates the flashing lights and has the crossing arm fully extended.

  • Drivers who violate the law face a $500 fine.
  • Drivers can face criminal charges for passing a school bus on the right, passing when a child is outside the bus, or injuring or killing a child.

Motorists

  • Motorists must stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights or a stop arm when approaching from the rear and from the opposite direction on undivided roads.
  • Motorists should slow down, pay attention and anticipate school children and buses, especially in neighborhoods and school zones.
  • The best way to be aware of your surroundings at all times is to put the distractions away.

Students             

  • When getting off a bus, look to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder.
  • Wait for the bus driver to signal that it’s safe to cross.
  • When crossing the street to get on the bus or to go home, make eye contact with motorists before proceeding.

Erin Hassanzadeh

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