YUKON, OKLA. - It’s the kind of tragedy that can be prevented: children getting run over on the way to and from school, all because of drivers who pass school buses when the bus puts out the stop sign.
The city of Yukon is putting the spotlight on that very issue with a blitz underway that aims to catch drivers who put children’s lives at risk.
“Drivers of motor vehicles are required to stop when a school bus’s red lights are activated,” said Yukon Police Major Matt Fairchild.
That’s the law, but not every driver stops when buses are loading or unloading.
The consequences can be deadly.
“Yukon police officers will be riding on school buses during the morning and afternoon routes,” Fairfield said. “Officers on the buses will be watching for drivers who fail to stop.”
Those officers will then relay information on drivers who break the law to other officers waiting in unmarked squad cars further down the street.
Officers are then ready to make arrests, armed with the ability to suspend a driver’s license on the spot and hand out a $271 fine.
“Our number one goal is student safety,” said Christy Clemons, the director of Transportation for Yukon Public Schools. “Two lane road: you have to stop both ways. Multi-lane, paved, even with a turning lane in the center, you still have to stop both ways.”
If it’s a four-lane road with a barrier in the center, you must stop if you’re on the same side of the road as the school bus.
Traffic on the other side of the barrier is free to continue normally.
Bus drivers have been working with Yukon police in recent weeks to let officers know where there’s a problem with drivers who violate the law.
“We’ve compiled data from several areas that we wish to target based on complaints from our bus drivers,” Fairfield said as the blitz kicked off.
“It says, if the lights are flashing, don’t try passing,” Clemons said, as she held up a T-shirt marked with that statement.
The Yukon Police Department will have officers riding in school buses for the next few days.
The police department and Yukon Public Schools hope the blitz not only catches drivers who put school children at risk, but also raises awareness about what the law requires.