Drivers who violate the law and fail to stop for a school bus that is in the process of dropping off children will be guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor, now that the North Royalton City Council has adopted a stricter penalty for that infraction. The measure was unanimously adopted at the April 18 City Council meeting.
Currently, 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 City’s legislation was introduced by Mayor Larry Antoskiewicz and co-sponsored by Council President Paul Marnecheck and Ward 5 Council Representative Dawn Carbone-McDonald. When asked why he co-sponsored the legislation, Marnecheck responded by saying “it strengthens the protection that increases the penalty for impatient people who thinks their time is more important than a child’s life.” Carbone-McDonald stated “as a Member of the Safety Committee, Member of City Council, and as a mom, public safety is extremely important to me, especially ensuring that the children of our community are safe when being transported to school each day. This legislation will provide further strength in our laws to accomplish that.”
The measure was first discussed at the March 15 Council Safety Committee Meeting. At that meeting, North Royalton Police Chief Keith Tarase reported police have issued 15 school bus citations so far this year. Last year, even though school was not open for a portion of the school year, it was reported that 22 citations were issued, according to North Royalton Law Director, Tom Kelly. The matter was again discussed at the April 19 Safety Committee meeting, with Tarase noting that there were four more citations issued in the past month. Kelly stated that “I’m sure it’s all distracted drivers, but these distractions have to end.” To that comment, Marnecheck noted that “it’s a reminder, myself included, to focus when we are driving. Hopeful this will raise awareness for people to be focused when they are driving.”
The situation of increased penalties was first brought about in April, 2020, when the North Royalton City Council unanimously adopted legislation that amended the city’s codified ordinance 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 current amendment to that ordinance was introduced at the April 5 City Council meeting that amends the city’s codified ordinances regarding the rules for stopping for school bus, actuating visual signals and discharging children by raising the violation to a Misdemeanor of the First Degree. Now that the amended ordinance has been adopted, the following verbiage has been removed, which states that those who violate “may be fined an amount not to exceed $1,000” and has now been replaced with “is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree as defined in the Ohio Revised Code and shall be sentenced according to the provisions of NRCO Section 698.02 and subject to a fine of not more than $1,000 and a term of incarceration of not more than 180 days.

Contributing Writer