AVON LAKE, Ohio (WJW) – Avon Lake City Council will consider increasing the minimum fine drivers could face for illegally passing a stopped school bus.
“This is a tragedy just waiting to happen,” Avon Lake City Schools Superintendent Bob Scott said. “We need to not run those stop signs.”
According to Avon Lake Police, officers have issued three citations to drivers in 2021 so far; they issued four citations in both 2019 and 2020.
“We want people to understand that this is dangerous,” Scott said. “You’ve got to slow down. You’ve got to stop. Take the 30 seconds, be a little late if you have to be, but don’t take the chance.”
In 2019, Avon Lake City Council increased the maximum penalty for illegally passing a stopped school bus to $750 and up to 30 days in jail.
Now, Ward 4 Councilman David Kos said he plans to introduce legislation at Monday’s city council meeting to set the minimum penalty at $500.
He said the change would correct an oversight in the previous legislation and compel judges to issue steeper fines than they have been.
“By increasing the minimum fine on this to $500, which was the old maximum fine, we are again reasserting that the City of Avon Lake takes the passing of school buses extremely seriously,” Kos said.
To further combat the problem, the Avon Lake City Schools in 2019 began installing exterior cameras on all 33 buses in its fleet. The district and city split the $110,000 cost.
When a driver illegally passes a stopped school bus, the district downloads the video and provides it to police for a potential citation.
Kos said, if approved at Monday’s meeting, the new minimum fine would take effect Tuesday. He said he hopes it will send a strong message to drivers.
“Children’s lives are at risk here,” Kos said. “And, we’re not going to put up with it anymore.”