2012-01-23 / Front Page

Brunswick police emphasize ‘stop for bus’ law

BY BETH BROGAN Times Record Staff

BRUNSWICK — The threat of a $250 fine, suspended license — or far more serious consequences — apparently isn’t enough to stop some drivers as they motor past stopped school buses in the Brunswick area.

Police and school officials said Friday that they’ve fielded more complaints recently about such incidents, especially along Pleasant Street.

“I think one of the problems is that Pleasant Street is so wide,” Deputy Chief Marc Hagan of the Brunswick Police Department said Friday. “People think that if a bus is stopped and they’re headed the other way, they don’t have to stop, but because the road isn’t divided (by a partition), they still have to stop.”

Complaints have come largely from parents of elementary- and middle school- age children, and about incidents during the morning and afternoon bus runs, according to Hagan.

So far, no one has been hit.

But police are concerned enough that they’ve assigned patrol officers in unmarked cars to the area, and an officer rode on a bus to try to spot offenders.

Craig Worth, director of transportation for the Brunswick School Department, said Friday that Pleasant Street isn’t the only problem — there have also been incidents on Bath Road and Maine Street — larger roads where, he suspects, not everyone knows that the law requires drivers traveling in both directions to stop whenever a bus is stopped with its lights flashing.

To ensure kids are safe along Pleasant Street, bus routes are designed so that they stop on both sides of the street to pick up and drop off students.

Smaller roads, Hagan said, are not as much of an issue because bus drivers sill position their buses “kind of in the middle of the street” and almost force cars to stop.

While some drivers simply don’t know the law requires them to stop, even if they are separated from the bus by a lane in each direction and double yellow lines, Worth said he does think others “are in a hurry and just don’t want to stop for the buses.”

Regardless of the reason, bus drivers do take note of cars that don’t stop, and if they can see a license plate, they can notify police of the plate number and car description, according to Worth.

First-time offenders risk a $250 minimum fine, and a 30- day license suspension is the penalty for subsequent offenses.

“Obviously the fines are a minimal concern compared to the potential loss of life or serious injury that could occur were a child to be struck by a vehicle while attempting to get on or off a bus,” Hagan said. “Our hope is to avoid such a tragedy by reminding the driving public of their responsibilities with regards to their operation near school busses when their red lights are engaged.”

bbrogan@timesrecord.com

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