The Smithville Police Department has been cracking down on motorists illegally passing school buses much to the delight of alderman and bus driver Danny Washer.
“I want to compliment the Chief and the Police Department on the job they are doing in the school zones. They have worked hard and it has made a difference. I can see a difference on my route and I know some of the others (bus drivers) have too. That’s a dangerous situation. A lot of people just don’t pay attention,” said Alderman Washer during Monday night’s city council meeting.
Smithville Police Chief Mark Collins told WJLE that officers have issued numerous citations recently. He is urging motorists to pay attention when driving, especially around a school bus, and stop when the buses are loading and unloading children.
The law requires that motorists yield to a bus with its lights flashing and stop sign out, whether they're headed in the same direction or in the opposite. Even if there's a center turn lane.
There's only one exception.
"In order to pass by a stopped school bus from the front there has to be an impassable median," said Lt. Ray Robinson with the Tennessee Highway Patrol's pupil transportation division.
“On this five lane highway (Broad Street) they (motorists) don’t understand the law,” said Mayor Jimmy Poss, who is also a school bus driver.
“That or they are talking on the phone. Its more so the phone than anything else. It’s been a big problem not just on Broad Street. Anywhere they can pass you (bus), they will,” replied Alderman Washer.
“It is against the law to talk on a cell phone in a school zone,” added Alderman Shawn Jacobs.
“When you’re driving a bus you see a lot,” said Mayor Poss
“You’re setting up there where you see it all,” added Alderman Washer.
“I just want the police department to know it (increased enforcement) has helped and I appreciate it. A lot of the other drivers do too,” said Washer.
It is a Class A misdemeanor punishable only by a fine of not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) for any person to fail to comply with the law requiring a motor vehicle to stop upon approaching a school bus.
Be alert and allow our children to arrive to and from school safely without harm.