Bemidji Police To Step Up Enforcement Of School Bus Stop Arm Violations
School buses in Bemidji have experienced incidents involving drivers disregarding school bus stop arms, prompting the Bemidji Police Department to respond.
Officers with the Bemidji Police Department will be implementing a proactive program in order encourage compliance with MN statute 169.444. The program will involve placing the Bemidji SRO/DARE Officers on bus routes that have had a high incident of reported stop arm violations. The Officer will report any observed violations to nearby Bemidji Police Officers at the time of the violation. The Officer will conduct a traffic stop and issue the appropriate citation.
The program will roll out this February. The routes are yet to be determined, and the days the officers are on the bus will be random. Both the morning and afternoon routes will be monitored.
The Bemidji Police Department requests that drivers be more aware of their surroundings and stop when the school bus stop arms are activated. Below is a list of safety recommendations from the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety:
School Bus Safety Tips for Children
When waiting for the bus: Be patient, stand back from road and no running or rowdy behavior.
When on the bus: stay seated, listen to the driver and use quiet voices.
It’s important for parents to discuss and demonstrate pedestrian safety with their children and reinforce safe crossing after exiting a bus:
- When getting off a bus, look to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder (side of the road).
- Before crossing the street, take five “giant steps” out from the front of the bus, or until the driver’s face can be seen.
- Wait for the driver to signal that it’s safe to cross.
- Look left-right-left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped. Keep watching traffic when crossing.
School Bus Safety Tips for Motorists
- Motorists must stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights and/or its stop arm is extended when approaching from the rear and from the opposite direction on undivided roads.
- Red flashing lights on buses indicates students are either entering or exiting the bus.
- Motorists are not required to stop for a bus if the bus is on the opposite side of a separated roadway (median, etc.) — but they should remain alert for children.
- Altering a route or schedule to avoid a bus is one way motorists can help improve safety. In doing so, motorists won’t find themselves behind a bus and as a result, potentially putting children at risk.
- Watch for school crossing patrols and pedestrians. Reduce speeds in and around school zones.
This program is a coordinated effort between the Bemidji Police Department, Bemidji ISD 31 and the Transportation Department for ISD 31.