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Published October 22, 2014
Sheriff warns about passing school buses
Courtesy The Herald Leader
By Sheriff Bobbie McLemore
Passing a stopped school bus with the stop sign out and flashing red lights will get you a $350 citation.

Many of our Ben Hill County Schools busses are equipped with cameras and you could have a “Kodak moment” that you cannot explain away. The Ben Hill County Schools busses began using cameras to detect violators at the beginning of this school term in August. The videos and citation are being sent to the Ben Hill County Sheriff’s Office to be reviewed to make sure a violation has occurred. The fine is a civil fine of $350 to be paid at the Probate Office.

WE REVIEW THE videos to make sure the stop sign is out, red lights flashing, and you have adequate time to stop before we accept the citation. If you pass as the stop sign is in the process of being extended, but not fully extended, we reject the citation. Since the fine is civil, the registered owner of the vehicle is responsible for the fine. If you were not driving, you have an opportunity to send in the driver’s information to the company writing the citations. If you don’t send in the actual driver’s name, address, and date of birth, you are liable for the fine.

About two-thirds of the videos that I have reviewed, the driver was talking on a cell phone. There is no call you can make or receive that would justify you striking a child loading or unloading from a school bus and killing or seriously injuring the child. Children don’t make decisions like adults and may run around the school bus into your path and be struck by your vehicle. You can live with a $350 fine, but it will be very hard to live with killing a child.

You are required to stop on following or approaching a stopped school bus when the stop sign is out and red lights are flashing. You don’t have an excuse for this violation. You have to stop also on four-laned streets or roads unless the center has a wall or medium. Perry House Road in front of the hospital is an example of a road that requires you to stop, even if there is a lane between you and the school bus. There is no wall or medium dividing the traffic. Central Avenue and Main Street are streets with divided medians that don’t require you to stop if the bus is on the other side.

HELP US KEEP OUR children safe and stop when a school bus is loading and unloading children. When you are driving, it is a full time job. Don’t let your cell phone divide your attention and cost a child their life or you $350.