** See prior coverage in the player above.
[Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct the maximum fine of $1,000 in Mayfield Heights.]
(WJW) – In some northeast Ohio communities, motorists could face fines up to $1,000 or a month behind bars if caught illegally passing a stopped school bus.
In most communities whose ordinances FOX 8 reviewed, the penalty for passing a school bus that has stopped to take on or let off children — regardless of whether a stop-sign arm has been deployed — is the same as the state’s: a misdemeanor count with a fine of no more than $500 and a possibility of the highest level of license suspension, up to one year. It’s also two points on your license.
But officials in many other areas have approved stricter penalties, like North Ridgeville’s, who earlier this month set the minimum fine at $350, up to a maximum of $1,000. There, police have issued nearly 120 citations for illegally passing school buses since 2020.
Here are some other communities with tougher penalties:
- A minimum fine of $500, up to a maximum of $750, along with a license suspension and up to 30 days in jail
- A maximum fine of $1,000, along with a license suspension
- A maximum fine of up to $1,000 and up to 30 days in jail, along with a license suspension
- A fine of up to $1,000 and up to 30 days in jail, along with a license suspension of up to one year
- A maximum fine of $1,000 and a license suspension
- A maximum fine of $750 and a license suspension
Some other communities with the standard $500 fine include: Akron; Beachwood; Berea; Canton; Cleveland; Elyria; Lakewood; Lorain; Mentor; Parma; Shaker Heights; Twinsburg; and Willoughby.
What are the rules of the road?
When a school bus’ amber lights begin flashing, get ready for it to stop. When its red lights come on or its stop sign-arm extends, you must stop at least 10 feet away, whether you’re behind the bus or facing it.
If you’re driving on a two-lane road, you can’t pass the school bus and have to remain stopped until it moves again. On a four-lane highway, however, only vehicles traveling in the same direction as the bus are required to stop.
The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles is tasked with educating drivers about those school bus rules, but Doug Palmer, the Ohio School Board Association’s senior transportation consultant, wonders whether motorists know where to find those rules.
They’re printed on the plastic sleeve that comes with new license plates, he said.
“How can the state promote better education?” he said.