(WFRV) – The Wisconsin State Patrol, as part of its law of the month, school bus safety, is encouraging drivers and families across Wisconsin to start preparing for school bus season.

In a release from the Wisconsin Stae Patrol, police say that school buses will start their routes within the next few weeks so it is important for the public to start preparing for potential changes in traffic patterns and safe bus stop habits

“School buses are some of the safest vehicles on the roads because they’re specially built to withstand damage in a crash, but our goal is to avoid testing that technology. All drivers must maintain the highest level of awareness when traveling near a school bus to avoid crashes and protect children on the way to school.”

Superintendent Tim Carnahan

Police say that despite having many safety features, there are still about 600 crashes involving school buses every year in Wisconsin.

School buses can make many stops and the children getting off the bus can be unpredictable so drivers should use extra caution when they see yellow buses on the roadways.

Authorities say the school bus loading and unloading area is the most dangerous for pedestrians, so drivers should also make sure to use extra caution when seeing the stop arm extended or the warning lights flashing.

Wisconsin law requires that drivers must do the following:

  • Stop at least 20 feet away from a bus showing flashing red warning lights.
    • (unless traveling on the other side of a divided highway)
  • Slow down when seeing flashing amber lights.
    • (drivers can pass the bus but must do so cautiously)
  • Yield to pedestrians with a walk signal, a green light, or are crossing a road with no signals.
  • Always follow the directions from school crossing guards.

Bus drivers are authorized to report any violations to law enforcement where the driver who illegally passed the bus can face fines of $326 and four demerit points.

The Wisconsin State Patrol says safety is also important at the bus stops as well and parents should have safety conversations with their children about good bus stop habits.

Good bus stop habits include:

  • Look both ways before crossing the street.
  • Follow instructions from bus drivers and crossing guards.
  • Stay at least three big steps away from the curb when waiting for the bus.
  • Wait until the bus stops and the driver says it’s safe to get on.
  • Make sure they can be seen by the bus driver when crossing the street and only cross in front of the bus

School bus drivers do receive special training to safely drive buses. Drivers are required to pass the Commercial Driver License exam featuring a school bus endorsement.

Some school districts and bus companies throughout the state also hold regularly scheduled new driver and continuing education programs as a way to make sure safety rules are being followed and being followed properly.

The Wisconsin State Patrol says it inspects every Wisconsin school bus every year to make sure each bus is ready to safely transport children.

Officials state they conduct about 10,000 inceptions each and every year to look at things like the bus’s steering, brakes, emergency exits, proper first aid kits, and fire extinguishers.

For more information on bus safety or any other laws of the month, click here.