Last week the Red River Parish Sheriff’s Office received notification of two incidents involving drivers who disregarded school bus stop signs/signals. In each case, video footage was provided by the parish school board, along with documentation from the school bus driver. Thankfully, no students were injured in either incident, however one was a very close call! The approaching vehicle reached the front of the bus traveling at normal speed as a child reached the center line of the roadway. The investigation revealed that the driver was distracted and never even noticed the stopped bus or warning signals.
As a result, Sheriff Edwards and the Red River Parish Sheriff’s Office would once again like to remind everyone of the requirements of Louisiana Revised Statute 32:80 (which can be read in its entirety at legis.la.gov/legis/Law.aspx?d=88593), as well as the dangers of distracted driving.
To summarize, when following or meeting a school bus which has stopped to pick up or drop off passengers, vehicles are required to stop at least 30 feet from the bus. When the yellow flashing lights are activated, this means “slow down and prepare to stop!”
Although not applicable in these two incidents, not only does this apply to two-lane highways, but also applies to all undivided highways. For drivers in our parish, this means that you must stop when following or approaching a stopped school bus, even if the roadway is separated by a turn lane.
Any school bus driver observing a violation is not only authorized but also encouraged to notify law enforcement in writing within twenty-four hours of an incident. In turn, the driver or owner of the vehicle may be issued a citation. Please note, if the investigation is unable to identify the driver, the owner of the vehicle will be cited! So, make sure you know who is driving your vehicle.
Anyone found guilty of a violation or pleading guilty/nolo contendere shall have his/her driver’s license suspended and be fined and/or imprisoned. The amount of the fine, length of suspension, and term of imprisonment vary depending upon the severity of any injuries resulting from the violation.
Because the safety and lives of our children are at stake, Sheriff Edwards is asking that everyone stay focused behind the wheel and commit to making school bus safety a priority in our community.