Bus drivers across KELOLAND say too many drivers are ignoring the law and putting children's lives at risk. Last week an Aberdeen bus driver caught an SUV on camera as it ignored flashing red lights and blew past the bus's stop sign. The problem goes beyond Aberdeen.
Sioux Falls bus drivers report hundreds of violators to police every year, and they tell us the number seems to be rising. This week we have set up cameras on buses and on nearby sidewalks to give you a first-hand look at what's happening.
Our cameras caught two drivers just within a few minutes of each other break the law. However, we saw more drivers break that law that we were not able to capture on camera. Bus driver John Anderson said he just wants to keep the children on his route safe, so it really upsets him when he sees someone ignoring the law.
"They're supposed to stop for that stop arm," Anderson said.
According to South Dakota law, you are supposed to stop your car -- no less than 15 feet away from the bus -- when you see the red lights flashing and the stop sign extended. If the lights are an amber color, South Dakota law requires you to slow down to no more than 20 miles per hour and drive by slowly. School Bus Inc. Manager Jim Shafer said, between all of the bus drivers and the routes, hundreds of drivers break this law every day.
"It's been ten to 15 years ago, over on Cleveland Avenue. I'll never forget that either. A car ran the red lights and hit a student in Sioux Falls and the shoes of that student were sitting in that street exactly where that student had been hit," Shafer said.
Be prepared to be prosecuted if you run the stop sign. Bus drivers will write down your license plate number, along with the make and model of your car. They will turn in to the Minnehaha County State's Attorney for potential legal action.
"The last thing you need to be doing is trying to beat the red lights, because it's a student. It's student safety you're talking about. It's not like running the red lights at an intersection, which you shouldn't be doing either," Shafer said.
You must also be aware of what you cannot see. Children, and their parents, may be crossing the street in front of the bus -- which is not visible to drivers. The stop sign could be out so they can cross safely. Anderson said it is time to put more focus on keeping students safe, before it is too late.
"My suggestion is, if you're in that big of a hurry, leave a little earlier. Keep our kids safe. That's what it's all about," Anderson said.