Cracking down on cars going around stopped school buses

Posted Tuesday, March 11, 2014 --- 6:11 p.m.

Sun Prairie Police are cracking down on cars going around stopped school buses, and lawmakers are joining the cause as well.

You might not know it's even illegal, but whenever a school bus has it's red flashing lights on that means you need to stop, and now with a bill passing out of committee today, the penalties can get a lot worse if you hurt someone.

Morning rush hour traffic, car troubles, or just a late start on a busy day, many are racing the clock to get to work on time each morning. But Sun Prairie Lieutenant, Kevin Konopacki says shaving seconds by b-lining it around a school bus is unacceptable.

"When those flashing red lights come on you need to stop."

Two schools specifically in Sun Prairie are having a lot of problems with this, so Konopacki says they placed officers near the schools and found most people didn't know they were breaking the law.

"People weren't doing this intentionally, they either weren't paying attention and didn't realize they had passed a school bus or they were under the impression if the school bus was parked by the curb...that they didn't need to stop," says Konopacki.

Focusing now on educating drivers, and warning them of the $250 citation that could be waiting for them on the other side of that school bus, Konopacki says the problem still hasn't gone away completely.

"We're still seeing issues however so like anything else, there needs to be an enforcement component."

So starting April 1st, the Sun Prairie Police will switch from warnings to tickets. And now Wisconsin lawmakers are looking to make the punishment even harsher. If a car ignores school bus lights and ends up hurting or killing a child, the proposed bill could land you behind bars for 10 years with a $25,000 fine.

Konopacki says the police department is all for the bill, he says anything to make the busy commute a little bit safer for the students is a good thing.

"At the end of the day that's exactly what it is, make those kids safe."

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