State Patrol Pushing for School Bus Safety

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WAUKEE, Iowa -- In a field, on the northwest corner of Waukee, sit almost 100 buses waiting for the school year to start this week. Before a single child is picked up, each bus is checked over by the Department of Education and the Iowa State Patrol.

In Waukee, the inspection is broken down into 12 sections. They include lights, tires, and the brake system.

“Every single school district is checked twice,” said Sgt. Ludwig. “The one thing we will find is the buzzer on the backdoors not working or you can’t hear the alert.”

The State Patrol will check every single school bus in the metro.

The biggest item related to safety is not even on the bus, it’s the other drivers on the road.

“People trying to speed up, when they see the yellow lights flashing, that’s very common,” said Sgt. Ludwig. “When you see those lights, it means caution. Slow down. It doesn’t mean speed out and pass that bus.”

Last year, almost 600 citations were issued for passing a bus illegally, 124 of them occurred in Polk County. The fines and suspension associated with a school bus biolation are much steeper than a normal citation.

“Whenever a bus is involved a court appearance is required,” said Sgt. Ludwig.

Even with the first offense, fines start at $250 and can be as high as $700.

As the buses get back on the roads, bus drivers are asking for your help to keep everyone safe.

“School bus driving is a difficult job. You are asked to do so many different things. You need to be constantly aware of your surrounding,” said Tom Kimbrow, safety supervisor for Waukee/Urbandale School district. “If you see a bus, know that there are kids most likely on it. Use a little more caution than you normally would. That will help out the drivers quite a bit.”