Centura School District, law enforcement agencies express concerns over student's bus safety

CAIRO, Neb. (KSNB) - More and more local school districts are becoming concerned for their student's safety as they get off school buses, and now some are teaming up with law enforcement agencies to educate people on school bus safety.

There are a couple hundred kids that ride on the school buses at Centura Public Schools. Their transportation director said they've had a major problem this year with people illegally going around their buses.

To help with this probelm, the Hall County Sheriff's Department along with the Nebraska State Patrol followed some of the buses around Thursday on their after school route to see if they would catch anyone breaking the law.

One man with the Hall County Sheriff's Department has kids that go to Centura. He said they were being dropped off one afternoon, and almost had a serious incident because of this issue.

"I happened to be at the end of the driveway waiting for them, and there was a loaded grain truck coming in the opposite direction, and they failed to stop and tried to slam on the breaks, and ended up sliding right past the bus and almost going into the ditch," said Chief Deputy Quinn Webb, Hall County Sheriff's Department. "Luckily my kids hadn't cleared the front of the bus yet so it was okay, but it was a scary incident."

The transportation director at Centura Public Schools said this isn't the first time they've had this type of incident.

He said they see the most issues with this on the highway.

Often times the kids have to go around the front of the bus to get home, so if a vehicle goes around the bus at that time, there could be a fatal accident.

"In them incidences where you see somebody coming, and it's all of a sudden too late, they're coming really fast, and you know it's like 'oh my god, what do you do,' said Rod Gericke, transportation director at Centura Public Schools. "Well sometimes you almost feel like getting out of the bus and running toward the kid and getting him to safety."

One man has been driving for Centura for the past year, but has been driving buses for close to 30.

He said he drives the morning and afternoon routes, and has seen several cars driving around his bus. He said one time a car even went so far as to drive into a ditch to get around.

"I have driven routes before where the children had to cross the highway to get to their house. The driver of that car does not know it, so if he passes the bus, you know he's got a pretty good chance of running over the kids," said Vince Tomlinson, a bus driver at Centura Public Schools.

One man with the Hall County Sheriff's Department organized the safety enforcement Thursday.

He said he wants to educate the public about the dangers and consequences of illegally driving around school buses.

"It is a misdemeanor, it is a wavable offense, but it is a misdemeanor, so $500 fine if you're to be caught driving around the stop sign on the school bus," said Sgt. Jeremy Jones, Hall County Sheriff's Department. "When you see a school bus, just right away you know slow down and really pay attention to what you're doing."

When you see a bus with yellow lights flashing, you are suppose to slow down.

When the red lights go on and the stop sign comes out, all lanes of traffic must stop, even if you are driving in the opposite direction.