It’s back to school time again. School buses will be making their rounds and kids will be walking on the roads.

The first day of school for DeForest Area School District is Tuesday. Sept. 3, but Kobussen school bus drivers will hit the road ahead of time to prepare families for school bus riding safety. Kobussen school buses will be noticed in our community, as school bus drivers will be practicing driving their routes as soon as Monday, Aug. 19.

Steve Rammer, DeForest terminal manager for Kobussen says that this practice will help prepare the motorists for the start of the school year by reminding them that school buses and children will be on our streets again.

Flashing yellow lights will be activated as the bus slows to a stop to load or unload passengers and alerts to other motorists whenever a school bus is preparing to stop in traffic and will start flashing about 300 feet before a bus stops. Rammer further reminds motorists, “Once you see those yellow lights come on, motorists should slow down and may pass carefully. But if you see red flashing lights, you are to stop no less than 20 feet away from the bus.” Once the bus stops, the red lights will flash and continue flashing during the loading or unloading of riders. Rammer states, “No passing when the red lights are flashing.”

Wisconsin state law prohibits motorists from passing whenever a school bus has stopped in traffic with its red lights flashing. The flashing yellow lights do not require a motorist to stop, but they are designed as an early-warning system.

Lt. Karl Mittelstadt of the Wisconsin Highway Patrol states if a vehicle does not stop for a school bus displaying its red warning lights, the penalty is $326 and four points will be assessed to the drivers driving record. “The penalty is small compared to what could happen if a child gets injured or killed due to somebody not adhering to the red warning lights,” Lt. Mittlestadt said.

Despite having about 13,500 school buses on the road statewide, Wisconsin has not recorded a fatality in 10 years with a passenger loading or unloading, Mittelstadt said. He agreed that the lighting system does a good job of alerting other motorists to a bus driver’s movements. “The requirements are simple: proceed with caution when yellow lights are flashing and stop on flashing red lights,” he states.

“It is paramount that our children arrive at school and back home safely each day,” said Rammer of Kobussen. “While stopping for a school bus might be a minor inconvenience for drivers, it could be a matter of life or death for a child. Please be especially cautious around school buses, not just at the beginning of the school year, but anytime they approach these big yellow vehicles.”

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