On Tuesday, November 8, the Minnesota State Patrol reached out through their official Facebook page with some scary and disappointing news regarding what school bus drivers are witnessing on a daily basis.

Every year there are reminders to drivers to be extra careful around school buses and to stop whenever they have their stop-arms out. That’s common sense, right? When those stop-arms are out that means kids are likely preparing to cross the street and they trust that motorists can follow this most basic law. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.

Here is the official post from the Minnesota State Patrol:

We’re hearing from more school bus companies about stop-arm violations and the news is not good.
The daily average of violations continues to climb as more school bus companies report incidents. An average of 13 stop-arm violations are reported each school day. Each incident risks our children’s lives.
Stopping for a school bus with its stop-arm extended and red flashing lights activated is the law.
Protect our children by putting the distractions away and not being in a hurry. Be prepared to stop when driving around school buses.

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One can only imagine the anger and terror that bus drivers must feel each and every time they witness a vehicle show complete disregard for the safety of the kids they transport and for the law in general. Parents don’t witness this, it’s these drivers who stress over this with just about every stop. I’ve known several school bus drivers and they are doing the best they can to write down licenses plate numbers and catch these dangerous idiot drivers. It really gets to them.

I want to personally say “Thank you” to our school bus drivers. As parents of kids who ride the bus, it can be easy to take for granted that kids will safely be transported to and from school regardless of the weather, road conditions and the other drivers out there sharing the road with school buses.

Our school bus drivers are transporting the most precious cargo and I know they don’t take that responsibility lightly, even though they may not always get recognition they deserve. So, thank you to the men and women who get up every school day and do their best to keep our kids safe, even if the kids themselves can be a bit rowdy and challenging.

Also, thank you for doing your best to catch each and every driver who keeps driving when your stop-arm is out. I, like most people, can’t even fathom doing such a thing and I can’t imagine having to witness it and fear for the kids. So, thank you for doing what you can and for reporting these instances to your company so that law enforcement is well aware that this problem is not going away.

Hopefully it’s the continued reporting of stop-arm violations from bus drivers and companies, and not the death of another child, that acts as a catalyst for tougher penalties for those who violate this law, regardless of whether the violation resulted in injury or death. This should never be a ‘slap on the wrist’ situation.

I think a hefty, eye-opening fine and license suspension is in order for first time violators and then penalties escalate from there if they do it again, which could include complete loss of license and jail time. Perhaps having strict penalties in place will wake a few of these selfish drivers up.

Thank you again to our school bus drivers. It’s not easy doing what you do, but you are making a difference out there and the majority of us have your back.  I know that if I see someone putting kids safety at risk, I’ll gladly report them to the police without any hesitation whatsoever.

Let's all make a pact to put to drive safely and look for school buses. If every single person put their phones down and paid attention on the road, we'd all be better for it. Just pretend you're a school bus driver carrying our future.

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