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Stopping for school buses is not an option; it’s the law

In just the first week of school, the city of Austin, Texas has seen more than 900 traffic citations issued to motorists for passing stopped school buses. There were more than 6,600 issued during the previous school year.

Two students have already been struck by vehicles within just a 24-hour period as they departed stopped school buses and walked across the street. Fortunately, both were able to walk away with only minor injuries, but that is not always the case.

According to CBS News, Americans illegally passed school buses more than 13 million times last year. About eight children are killed every year by drivers who ignore school bus stop signs.

In the hustle of our everyday lives where we are running behind, late for appointments or soccer practice or work, and the distractions of cell phones, we oftentimes forget that we are behind the wheel of a vehicle and do not pay attention to those around us — including stopped school buses that are loading and unloading precious cargo.

Passing a stopped school bus in Mississippi is a crime, but up until 2011 there was little punishment. Nathan’s Law, named for 5-year-old Nathan Key who was struck and killed by a driver passing a stopped school bus in Jones County, makes passing a stopped school bus punishable by up to a $1,500 fine and suspension of a driver’s license.

School is back in session. Let’s not be like Austin, and stop when we see those flashing school bus lights.