Proposed ordinance would create new requirements for school bus drivers: Why some are opposed

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MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee aldermen are trying to make getting to and from school safer for kids. But Milwaukee Public Schools officials say a proposed ordinance might just do the opposite. It would require a school bus to turn on its flashing lights and put out its stop arm when dropping kids off.

"Hopefully this matter is held or killed (Thursday) at committee," Alderman Terry Witkowski said.

Alderman Witkowski opposes the proposal. He worries kids would rely entirely on the bus to protect them.

School bus

School bus

"They`re very trusting. They follow rules. If a bus driver says it`s safe and a car goes through the signal, it`s too late," Alderman Witkowski said.

Right now, it is state law that when a school bus stops and activates its flashing lights and stop arm, drivers have to stop 20 feet from the bus. But in Milwaukee, bus drivers don`t have to use the flashing lights and stop arm for every single stop. Under this proposed ordinance, that would be required.

On Wednesday, September 30th, a FOX6 News crew watched several buses drop off students along Greenfield Avenue. Each time, the driver used the yellow hazard lights, but nothing else. That's the protocol when there's a sidewalk on either side of the street.

School bus

School bus

AAA wants that to change.

"The only thing that`s gonna be different is whether or not cars have to stop and give them a zone of safety while they get off the bus," Nick Jarmusz with AAA Wisconsin said.

Milwaukee Public Schools officials oppose the ordinance.

An MPS spokesman issued this statement to FOX6 News:

"Milwaukee Public Schools does not support a change to the current ordinance for two reasons.

A change would encourage students to pass in front of buses in a busy urban environment with no clear view of the road they are crossing.

Without appropriate enforcement and significant public education, this change could potentially lead to increased injury if cars ignore the stop light and red light indicators at the same time students have been instructed it is safe to cross.

MPS currently instructs students only to cross the street where they have an unobstructed view and know it is safe to cross the street."

School bus

MPS response to proposed school bus ordinance

AAA officials say kids should still wait until the road is clear, but the ordinance would add another layer of protection.

"There`s gonna be folks who disregard it or violate the rule for whatever reason. Right now though, in that situation where a student runs out into the street on one of these streets in question, there`s a zero percent chance that any cars are going to stop because they`re not required to," Jarmusz said.

The Milwaukee Common Council's Public Safety Committee is scheduled to discuss and vote on this ordinance on Thursday morning.

School bus

School bus

READ IT: AAA statement on proposed ordinance for school bus drivers.

READ IT: Statement from Common Ground, a group in support of the proposed ordinance.

3 comments

  • chris

    Wouldn’t matter either way. I’ve seen cars fly by stopped busses in the hood all the time. Stop signs, flashing lights, traffic signs are treated like suggestions.

  • heather depper

    I am originally from Illinois and they have a law down there if you do not stop for the stop sign on a bus there is a camera on the front and back of the bus to capture your liscense plate and you are sent a ticket for the first offense then repeating offenders face fines and even jail time

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