Police remind drivers not to pass stopped school buses
Fairfield Police Department wants to remind drivers not to pass a stopped school bus that has activated its lights or extended its stop arm out.
Iowa law requires stiff penalties for drivers who pass a stopped school bus with its warning lights on or stop arm out. A person convicted of a violation faces a fine of between $250-$675 and/or up to 30 days in jail. The Iowa Department of Transportation will also suspend the person’s driver’s license for 30 days.
Despite the penalties, Fairfield Police Capt. Colin Smith said reports of illegal passings of school buses are up “four to five times” this year compared to a few years ago.
A press release from the police indicate that most of the violations have occurred on Burlington Avenue, such as the 2500 block of West Burlington, the 600 block of West Burlington and the 300 block of East Burlington.
“Burlington Avenue has created some confusion for drivers,” read the press release. “The center turn lane creates a buffer between eastbound and westbound traffic. Many drivers incorrectly assume this added space eliminates the need to stop for a stopped school bus.”
If a school bus activates its warning lights and stop sign on Burlington Avenue, all traffic in both directions is required to stop until the school bus disengages the warning lights and stop sign.
Smith said officers do not have the usual discretion in deciding whether to issue a citation or issue a verbal warning like they do for other moving violations. If the officers locate the driver, Iowa code requires them to issue a citation. If they can’t locate the driver, they must cite the registered owner of the vehicle.