Bay Village Schools Supt. Clint Keener heard from parents this fall that some automobile drivers were passing stopped school buses in the morning. The complaints prompted the district to test a strobe warning light as an additional, and hard-to-ignore, signal that the bus had stopped.
“The situation seems to be more of a problem on Lake Road,” Keener said, noting that the Bay Village section of Route 2 is heavy with commuters to downtown Cleveland in the mornings.
“People are in a hurry. Maybe they don’t understand the traffic laws. But this is a reminder that really gets a driver’s attention.” The lights are approved for school buses by the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
The new School Bus Warning Light, made by Akron’s Weldon Company (a division of Akron Brass), is a strobe light that is mounted on both sides of the front and rear bumpers of the school bus at a motorist’s eye level. The lights measure five inches long and just over a half-inch wide, flashing red and white in quick bursts of light. The district tried them on one bus, and the bus driver and parents reported that it seemed to make a difference.
“The cost is about $400 per bus,” said Keener. “We’ll be adding the lights to all our Lake Road-route buses as an additional deterrent, and we’ll continue to monitor their effectiveness.”
Ohio law requires that drivers on both sides of a two-lane road must stop for a school bus when it displays flashing red lights and the stop-sign arm is extended (although a failure of the lights working is not a defense for passing a school bus that is stopped to pick up or drop off students). The bus’ red lights are activated when the door is opened. Motorists who pass at this point put students at serious risk of injury. There are exceptions to the stopping law for drivers on the opposite side of a four-lane road or a divided highway, but motorists on the same side are prohibited from passing the bus when it is stopped.
The school bus driver may report this infraction, and motorists can be ticketed if reported. Drivers charged with violating the school bus law must appear in court and could be fined up to $500 and/or have their driver’s license suspended. Further details can be found in Ohio Revised Code 4511.75.