Yesterday morning three Rogers High School students were injured after being hit by a pickup truck that failed to stop for a school bus with its stop-arm extended in Otsego, Minn. A young man and young woman are in critical condition while anther young man is in serious condition. The three 15-year-olds are all at Hennepin Medical Center in Minneapolis. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the students and their families with the extensive medical costs that will occur on their road to recovery, please feel free to help these families out. The driver of the pickup truck, Cody Scott Pech, has been booked into the Wright County jail on "criminal vehicular operation" charges.

This unfortunate incident started me thinking, every year thousands of drivers are cited or charged for violating the state's school bus stop arm law, my question is why? This law has been in the books for years, yet so many drivers seem unaware of it, sometimes with tragic results. Perhaps there needs to be a promotional campaign to drive the idea home that you're not suppose to drive around a bus that is stopped with its stop-arm extended. It seems to have worked well for the seat belt law with their Click-It or Ticket promotion. For my part in making drivers aware of school bus safety here's the list of safety tips from the Office of Traffic Safety website:

School Bus Safety Tips for Motorists

  • Motorists must stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights and/or its stop arm is extended when approaching from the rear and from the opposite direction on undivided roads.

  • Red flashing lights on buses indicates students are either entering or exiting the bus.

  • Motorists are not required to stop for a bus if the bus is on the opposite side of a separated roadway (median, etc.) — but they should remain alert for children.

  • Altering a route or schedule to avoid a bus is one way motorists can help improve safety. In doing so, motorists won’t find themselves behind a bus and as a result, potentially putting children at risk.

  • Watch for school crossing patrols and pedestrians. Reduce speeds in and around school zones.

  • Watch and stop for pedestrians — the law applies to all street corners, for both marked and unmarked crosswalks (all street corners) — every corner is a crosswalk.

Four lives (not to mention their families and friends) have been irrevocably changed because of this incident, which only took seconds to occur. All because, allegedly, this 22-year-old man either was unaware of the law or decided to ignore it. Sad.

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