Back To School Safety Reminders Issued
With area students back in school for the 2015-16 school year, law enforcement and school officials are joining together to remind both students and the public to be alert, be aware and think safety every day.
“We encourage everyone to be mindful that there is increased pedestrian and bicycle traffic in the community with school in session,” noted Emmetsburg Police Chief Eric Hanson. “Motorists should exercise extra caution not only when driving near schools, but throughout the community.”
Watching out for youths on bicycles and on foot is important, but it is also important for motorists to be mindful of laws regarding school buses, specifically when buses are picking up or discharging passengers.
The Code of Iowa requires that drivers stop any time they meet a school bus that has activated its red flashing lights and extended the stop arm. This applies to drivers meeting or following a school bus. Failure to obey the stop arm or flashing red lights of a school bus can have serious consequences. A first offense of Unlawful passing of school bus is a Simple Misdemeanor punishable by a fine of at least $250 but not more than $675. A conviction may also be grounds for an order of imprisonment not to exceed 30 days, in lieu of or in addition to a fine for the violation. In addition, the Iowa Department of Transportation will impose a 30-day suspension of the violator’s privilege to drive motor vehicles in the state. The Iowa DOT also classifies a school bus violation as a major violation, and any driver convicted of such a violation will be required to carry SR-22 insurance coverage for a two-year period.
Additional penalties are available for subsequent offenses, or when a school bus violation results in any injury or death of a child.
Parents and youth are also being reminded that they need to think safety even when not in school such as when they are traveling to and from school in the mornings and afternoons.
“We encourage youth to always remember to be aware of their surroundings,” Chief Hanson said. “The best rule is to walk with a friend, or in a group, and if they are walking home later after practices or events, as dusk falls, always travel in well-lit areas.”
The public can also help by looking out for our younger citizens, Hanson added. “If people see something that doesn’t look right, a vehicle that appears to be following kids, or strangers wandering around in a neighborhood, don’t hesitate to contact Police and let us know what you’re seeing. We will come and check, anything to keep our young people safe.”
“Our officers are on school patrols each morning and afternoon to watch out for our young people,” Chief Hanson noted, “and with everyone’s help and cooperation, our children will enjoy a safe year in school.”