Cape police receive reports of drivers not stopping for buses

Sunday, August 22, 2004

State and local authorities are urging Missouri drivers to pay closer attention to driving safely, especially now that school is in session.

Last week, Cape Girardeau police received at least two reports of drivers who did not stop for a school bus that was loading or unloading students.

Under Missouri law, if a school bus is stopped with its red lights flashing and the stop arm extended on a two-lane road, drivers must stop when meeting or following the bus.

"Kids getting on and off the bus are precious cargo," said Sgt. Jack Wimp. "I would hate for someone to run over one of those kids and seriously injure him. People should make sure they stop when they see a bus with its lights on and the stop arm out."

Wimp said that if police are given a license plate number, they will track it down, contact the driver and if necessary issue a ticket. The municipal judge will decide the penalty.

The highway patrol urges drivers also to be aware around high schools where inexperienced drivers are entering and leaving school property. In 2003, most traffic crashes involving drivers under 21 occurred between 3 and 4 p.m., when schools typically let out.

In July, Gov. Bob Holden signed into law a bill that makes it easier for the state to take away the license of any driver who ignores the stop arms. Ignoring a stop sign on a school bus was already a misdemeanor. The new statute allows a court to suspend a license for 90 days after the first offense, and for 120 days for subsequent violations.

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