Holmen school officials say reports of cars passing stopped school buses double in past year

The new school year is in full swing and that means people are probably noticing lots of school buses back on the road. Local transportation officials said they’ve seen a spike in the number of people passing buses while they’re dropping off children.

It’s rare for a child to be killed when they get off a school bus. The state of Wisconsin averages one fatality per year, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. However, one is too many. Local school district officials said they are seeing a lot of people disregard an important law that can have serious consequences.

“Buses are big and yellow for a reason,” Town of Campbell police Chief Drew Gavrilos said.

When a bus stops to drop off a child, the School District of Holmen has seen reports of cars blowing past the bus — double the number from last year.

“It’s kind of scary,” said Mike Raabe, assistant transportation supervisor with the School District of Holmen. “We are having two per day. It’s really sad. We had four days of school, and we had seven reported instances of cars driving right past the flashing red lights.”

It is illegal to pass a school bus when it stops to let out a student, no matter which side of the road a driver is on. Every bus has devices in place to make it obvious to drivers.

“We have mirrors, we have the stop gate that comes out, telling students how far away they can cross in front of the bus,” Raabe said. “We have red lights and the stop sign.”

Gavrilos said it’s not complicated. The writing on the bus means exactly what it says.

“We have no tolerance for it,” he said. “If we see it, we are going to issue citations.”

He said a citation is the least of a person’s worries.

“On top of the fact that you have the tragedy of a child who is injured or killed, you have a driver who is going to have to live with that the rest of their lives,” Gavrilos said.

In his 24 years in law enforcement, he has seen families’ lives change forever.

“It’s people just not paying attention,” he said.

Parents will understand.

“I’ve got two boys and I can’t even imagine,” Gavrilos said.

He said don’t risk ending a life too soon over an extra 10 seconds.

“The fact that you are late for work shouldn’t be anyone else’s problem,” he said. “It certainly shouldn’t be putting children at risk.”

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