BOLIVAR, Mo. – With a new school year on the horizon, the Bolivar Police Department is reminding the public how important it is to keep school bus stops safe for kids.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the greatest risk to a child isn’t from riding the bus, but from getting on or off of the bus.

“Never pass a bus from either direction on an undivided road if it’s stopped to load or unload
kids,” Lt. Roger Barron said.

In order to follow the law, drivers must stop for all school buses with flashing lights and a “STOP” sign extended when driving on a two-lane connected roadway, regardless of which side of the road you’re on.

Barron said when driving behind a school bus, putting greater space between the car and the bus can help avoid any accidents that might be caused by the bus coming to a stop sooner than a driver might be anticipating.

“Drivers need to stop far enough back to allow kids space to safely enter and exit their buses,” he said.

The City of Bolivar said they recently placed signs on Aldrich Road to remind drivers they cannot pass stopped school buses loading and unloading children. Barron said drivers still need to stay alert.

“Kids are often unpredictable,” Barron said. “We just don’t know when they might ignore hazards and take unnecessary risks. And it’s our job as adults to ensure we do all we can to protect them.”

The Bolivar R-1 School District buses head out to pick students up at around 6 a.m. until school begins at 7:45 a.m. to 8:15 a.m., and head out again to drop students off after schools dismiss from 2:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. until around 5 p.m. The penalty for passing a school bus stopped with the sign extended can include fines over $130.

More information on driver and bus safety can be found on the NHTSA website.