NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio- The refusal of some drivers to stop when a school bus is picking up or dropping off students, which prompted the North Ridgeville School District to purchase buses equipped with cameras to capture video of the violators, continues to be a major safety issue in the Lorain County community.
North Ridgeville Mayor David Gillock says in the most recent mayor’s court, 30 of the 40 cases involved defendants cited for failing to stop for a school bus that has activated its warning lights and stop sign.
Mayor Gillock says he was “flabbergasted” by that number and blames driver inattention, distraction or in the case of one normally law abiding citizen, carelessness. "She said, 'Mayor, I just didn't see it until the last minute. By the time I saw it, I was past it; I did stop but they already had me on video,' and that's just carelessness and when you're driving you've got to be careful," said Gillock.
The cameras mounted on four new North Ridgeville buses continue to catch violators, who are putting the lives of children in danger. One video showed a car speeding around a bus that was dropping off a group of children in a residential neighborhood. "The bus comes to a stop. The children are exiting the bus. The stop arm is out. This vehicle comes from behind the bus and passes the bus. This could have been a tragedy," said transportation supervisor Tammy Butler.
To educate drivers and perhaps change some of their attitudes, the city of North Ridgeville and the school district are now encouraging homeowners to put signs in their yards, reminding drivers about their duty to stop for a school bus.
But if one recent violation caught on video is any indication, some drivers are already ignoring the signs. "All the signs say: 'Please stop in both directions for our school buses,' you can see the bus stops, red light comes out, violator rolls through with signs on the left and a bus stopped to the right,” said Tammy Butler.
According to Mayor Gillock, "It is totally unacceptable. There are no circumstances where it is acceptable to pass a school bus."
Violators can face a fine up to $500 and, in some cases, their license can be suspended.