Thursday morning, police officers tailed buses from the Meridian School District to elementary, middle and high schools. Others parked along the routes to watch out for impatient morning commuters who might pass the bus as children climbed aboard.
Thats a huge problem for us. We want to make sure our kids are safe, Officer Dave Gomez said.
Idaho law states that drivers must stop when a school bus is stopped to pick up or drop off kids. The bus displays flashing red lights and a stop sign that pops out of the side on an arm.
On a two-lane road, both oncoming vehicles and traffic going in the same direction as the bus must stop. Although the children all board on one side of the bus, that does not mean cars in the other lane are not a danger, Gomez said.
When its dark, you cant see kids coming in last minute that are going to dart across the road, he said.
Drivers traveling in the opposite direction do not have to stop on roads with four or more lanes, if there are at least two lanes in each direction.
Commuters running late are often tempted to swerve around a slow-moving bus rather than remain stuck behind it for several stops, Gomez said, but thats a bad idea.
In contrast with simply rolling through a stop sign, overtaking a school bus is a misdemeanor offense, saddling violators with a court date and a hefty fine of up to $500.
Police hope that the patrols will let them catch dangerous drivers and serve as a reminder that shaving a few minutes off a commute is not worth putting Meridians youngest residents in harms way.
People have gotten hurt in the past, and we dont want anybody to get hurt here, Gomez said.
Katie Terhune: 377-6219