Mar 13 2009
BRYAN COUNTY, Okla. ― Rock Creek Public School students were back in class Wednesday, and buses are running normally just over 24 hours after several students were injured in a school bus accident on U.S. Highway 70 East of Bokchito. First News reporter Rita Kotey looked at the laws regarding school buses stopped on busy roads.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Steve Nabors has been a police officer for many years, but he says nothing could have prepared him for Tuesday’s bus accident. Nabors says when a call comes in, and it’s a school bus that level of urgency really arises because they know there are children involved.
Many question why the bus was stopped on a major rural highway. We thought to find out what the state law says about stopped buses.
Oklahoma State Law says buses can stop anywhere, but drivers must look for warning lights and a stop sign on the bus. Motorists must stop a safe distance behind the bus.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a city, street, or county road, or a state or a U.S. highway, but if a school bus is stopped with the lights activated, everybody is required to stop. It doesn’t matter where you are,” Nabors says.
But in Tuesday’s crash the students not only had to get off the bus on the highway, they also had to cross the road to get home.
“That’s why there is a law that allows them to stop, and they are allowed to stop. But it is everybody else’s responsibility to obey that stop,” says Nabors.
Nabors says it’s unlikely the law will change because it is a state and federal law, but he says the best way to keep children safe is for adults to follow the rules.
“There is no clear cut solution than for everybody to pay attention when they are around a school bus, especially at 3:15 to 3:20 in the afternoon. The school buses are well marked, uniformly marked and everybody in the state is uniformly in compliance with their laws on what is required by the public.”
Nabors says there is a fine of $100 to pass stopped school buses. In the case of the driver of the semi Tuesday, he has not been issued a citation or charged with any crime, but as OHP continues their investigation, they say if they issue a citation, it will be for driver inattention.