Long Grove hopes bigger fine increases safety, reduces cut-through traffic
Long Grove now has a local law allowing the village to impose higher fines on drivers who illegally pass a standing school bus when its stop arm is extended.
The action taken Tuesday night by the Long Grove village board came a little more than a month after about 30 residents raised concerns about speeding drivers cutting through local streets, sometimes passing stopped school buses to avoid busy Lake-Cook Road and Arlington Heights Road on the Buffalo Grove-Arlington Heights border.
Mirroring a state law effective since Jan. 1, the trustees voted 5-0 to boost fines from $150 to $300 for a first offense for passing a standing school bus with its stop arm displayed. Fines will go from $500 to $1,000 for the second and subsequent offenses.
Village President Bill Jacob said the local ordinance was needed for Long Grove's prosecutor to seek the higher fines enacted by the state.
The village soon will post electronic message boards warning of the steeper fines on Checker Road, where residents have complained about the drivers illegally passing the school buses. Jacob said the village intends to do more to increase traffic safety in the area.
"We're still looking at what some of the options are," he said. "It's one of my priorities to see what we can do to reduce cut-through traffic and speeding."
Checker Road resident Allison Locascio was among those who voiced concern to the village board in December about the number of vehicles she's seen improperly passing stopped school buses and endangering children.
"I'm proud of the village for stepping up and trying to do something," Locascio said Wednesday. "And I hope it's effective."
On weekday mornings, thousands of vehicles on eastbound Lake-Cook often bail about a mile before reaching Arlington Heights Road, according to a traffic study by Buffalo Grove-based Vernon Township. Those drivers turn left onto northbound Schaeffer and right at Checker in an attempt to reach northbound Arlington Heights Road in Buffalo Grove more quickly.
In the afternoon, many commuters have been going from southbound Arlington Heights Road to westbound Checker to southbound Schaeffer in the hope of reaching westbound Lake-Cook faster.
Paula Delong, assistant location manager at First Student Inc., said the company has had concerns about vehicles ignoring school bus stop arms by pickup spots near Checker and Schaeffer, along with others in southern Long Grove. Bus drivers have reported to police several instances of drivers ignoring stop arms.
"While their concerns are for the students approaching our buses, (the drivers) are usually unable to obtain a license plate number," Delong said. "They have beeped their horns several times to alert a student of a vehicle approaching while they're crossing."
Pete Panayiotou, longtime owner of The Continental Restaurant in Buffalo Grove and a resident on Pheasant Run near Checker in Long Grove, said he saw a car almost hit his son and two other children just after they exited a bus. He said he hopes turn restrictions can be enacted to discourage drivers from using Checker and Schaeffer to avoid the larger thoroughfares.