Why some in Buffalo Grove are worried about school bus safety
Concerned after seeing drivers cruise past school buses stopped to pick up students along Prairie Road in Buffalo Grove, parent Katie Hoffmann-Mark decided to take a video of her 9-year-old son Michael boarding a bus earlier this month.
The video shows two cars blowing by the bus as it's stopped to open its doors for Michael. Posted later on Facebook, the video revealed what Hoffmann-Mark and others say is an ongoing problem in Buffalo Grove.
"It was amazing for that particular day to see that many people just going through there," Hoffmann-Mark said. "The second (car) had no regard for the fact that the bus was stopped and had flashing lights, so it just kept going and did not slow down."
Police, she said, provide a presence in the area when they can, but when officers are absent, so is the attention of drivers.
"I don't know if these people know how to stop," she said. "I don't know if they're going to make a mistake. Are they going to hit my kid?"
Buffalo Grove police say they are aware of the issue and taking steps to educate drivers.
"This is something that's important to the police department, and it should be important to all those living and passing through the village," said Officer Meghan Hansen of the department's community relations unit. "These kids aren't always well versed in traffic laws, so it's our job as drivers to drive with caution and take care of our kids."
The effort includes a page on the village's website detailing what the law requires of drivers approaching school buses. Under the law, a driver must stop for any school bus that is pulled over to load or unload passengers, unless heading in the opposite direction on a four-lane or wider road.
A conviction will lead to a three-month suspension of driving privileges and $150 fine, according to the village.
The village advises anyone seeing a violation to contact Buffalo Grove police Sgt. Michelle Kondrat of the traffic unit at firstname.lastname@example.org or (847) 808-2634.
Hansen said the department also has officers patrol along school bus routes looking for violations. In certain situations, an officer will be out of the car and radio another officer down the road when a violation is spotted.
Kondrat said the department has provided school bus companies with forms they can fill out and fax to the police department when a driver sees a violation and can get the violator's license plate information.
The department also has used message boards at Buffalo Grove Road near Banyan Tree Lane and Prairie Road near Arlyd Road, where Hoffmann-Mark took her video, to educate drivers. And police also are communicating with the Lake County Division of Transportation about adding street signs alerting drivers to upcoming bus stops, Kondrat said.
A bill passed by the Illinois House this spring would double the fine for passing a stopped school bus to $300. Its sponsor cited an ABC 7 Chicago report that Illinois school bus drivers in 2017 reported more than 20,000 instances where buses were passed while the "STOP" arm was out.