School buses are back on the road. Here's what you need to know to avoid a ticket.
Kids are throwing on backpacks and heading back to class, and with it, parents face the stress of school mornings. Resist the rush and don't ignore school bus traffic laws, or face a three-month driver's license suspension.
Jon Sander, general manager of Barrington Transportation Co., has driven school buses for 22 years and observed an increased recklessness firsthand.
"(I see violations) quite frequently, almost on a daily basis when I've driven," Sander said, "whether it's speeding and driving on a shoulder to get around a school bus or pulling out in front."
According to the Illinois Vehicle Code, vehicles approaching a stopped bus are required to stop regardless of the bus's direction of travel. The sole exception: A driver is not required to stop when both vehicles are on a four-lane road and the bus is stopped in the opposite direction than the other vehicle is traveling.
Bus drivers flash lights on the vehicle's front and rear to warn other drivers they will stop soon. Once stopped, the driver extends the bus's stop signal arm.
Other vehicles cannot proceed until the school bus's flashing lights are off and the arm retracted or the bus driver signals for them to pass.
Violation of these laws can result in a driver's license suspension. If the vehicle's owner was not driving during the offense, the owner is required to report the name of the driver to the state's attorney's office or face a three-month vehicle registration suspension.
Sander partially attributed the higher frequency of violations to distracted driving.
"People are still using their cellphones when they're driving," Sander said, "and we're in more of a rush to get where we need to be getting."
Sander said Barrington bus drivers report violations to law enforcement agencies. When Barrington police receives a report from a bus driver or company, the department usually sends a warning letter to the driver. A second report can lead to a ticket.
Sander said school buses are very safe vehicles, but reckless drivers often ignore laws at vulnerable moments.
"The most dangerous is the stop arm violation because we may be crossing students at that time," Sander said. "That's when the students are most at risk, when they're outside the vehicle."