The North Royalton City Council unanimously adopted legislation that increases the fine for those who fail to stop for a school bus that is in the process of dropping off children. The fine has been doubled, from $500 to $1,000. The legislation amends the current ordinance Part 4 Traffic Code, Title Six, Chapter 432 Operation Generally, Section 432.30 Stopping for School Bus; Actuating Visual Signals; Discharging Children, Paragraph (f)(1).
According to the Laws of the state of Ohio:
– Drivers approaching a school bus in any direction must stop at least ten feet from the front or rear of the school bus. They cannot proceed until the school bus resumes motion or the school bus driver motions for the driver to proceed.
– When a highway has four or more lanes, a driver approaching from the opposite direction of the school bus does not need to stop. However, those driving in the same direction as the school bus must stop.
The North Royalton legislation was introduced by Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw and Ward 5 Councilman Vince Weimer, and co-sponsored by Council President, Paul Marnecheck at the March 18 City Council meeting. “Our number one focus with our legislation is safety,” said Langshaw. “The safety of ensuring our children get to and from school safely. If this legislation helps save even one child’s life then it is success. The other part of the legislation is consistency and education. By raising the fine the cities of North Royalton, Broadview Heights, and Brecksville all now will have the exact same laws on the books so as a region we all will be safer. Then come fall the city will partner with the North Royalton School District to do an educational campaign to remind folks of this law, and how to properly stop for school buses and other helpful safety tips.” Weimer noted that they “ introduced this legislation out of a concern for the growing number of people who are passing school buses while they are loading or unloading students. As a recent bus driver in our community, I had several situations where the lives of my students were endangered by someone refusing to stop and going around my bus. Every one of our bus drivers strives to keep our kids safe and it is important that our city makes it clear that stopping for a school bus is not an option in North Royalton and it’s going to cost you a lot more time and money when you do, rather than if you had taken the few extra moments to wait for the bus.”
The measure was discussed at the Council Safety Committee meeting that night. Greg Gurka, Superintendent of the North Royalton City Schools and Jim Presot, the Assistant Superintendent of Schools were in attendance of that meeting. Gurka noted that the safety and well being of students is paramount in the school. “We are always aware and concentrating on how we can keep our students safe,” he said. “When our students are coming to school and/or going home from school, safety is critical. Our bus drivers receive extensive training and testing before they are issued their commercial driver’s license with a passenger endorsement. Once they receive their CDL, they still receive training and re-licensing requirements.”
Gurka went on to note that “our bus drivers work with our students to teach them the rules of riding on a school bus, including the proper way to enter a bus and the proper way to get exit a bus. This includes waiting the proper distance from the curb and, if needing to cross the street, paying close attention to the driver and understanding the proper hand signals the bus driver will give the student when it is safe to cross. This is where all of our concerns come in. While our drivers are vigilant and continually scan the roads to make sure safe conditions exist, they and our students are at the mercy of our citizens doing the correct thing and following our traffic laws and regulations.”
Gurka went on to say that the district officials have been in conversation with the Mayors of both North Royalton and Broadview Heights in an effort to increase traffic safety. He added that nine new school buses have been purchased for the 2020-21 school year with the latest safety features, including cameras that will be mounted to the stop sign arms that can record traffic passing a school bus on both sides. He committed that “we will work to educate our communities about safe practices when it comes to not only passing a school bus, but also the importance of slowing down in a school zone. Beginning in August, which is designated as school bus safety month, we will implement a campaign, using both traditional methods and social media, complete with educational messages and materials on the importance of following the laws around schools and school vehicles.”
“Thanks to Councilman Weimer for bringing his real world experience (having been a school bus driver) to his Council service,” said Marnecheck. “To me, it’s about time. Since this is non- waivable, you can’t just write a check and be done. You must appear in Court. So, either wait a few moments and ensure children are safe, or be impulsive and forfeit time, pay substantial fine plus court fees etc. I know I’ll try and be more patient knowing what the penalties are. Hopefully Council’s actions raise awareness.”
Contributing Writer