LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI)— In July, a new law went into effect across Indiana that gives harsher punishments to drivers who fail to stop for a stopped school bus. It was signed into law after three children were killed when they were boarding their bus, and a driver hit them.
News 18 is wondering, why aren't there laws requiring drivers to stop for city buses? We learned that while there is not a law to stop for city buses, there are still expectations.
John Connell, Manager of Operations at Citybus, said a lot of people aren't aware of those expectations.
"There's some confusion for the average motorist when they pull up and see a transit bus stopped to board passengers," Connell said.
Why are only school buses legally protected?
Why aren't there laws that require you to stop for public buses?
"We have a lot of individuals that ride our buses that are small children. We have [riders of] all ages, small children to senior citizens. We have a lot of disabled individuals that use our services," Connell said.
In the past five years, there have been 117 traffic crashes involving CityBuses.
Riders think they know why.
"People get in a hurry and so they'll go out around a bus," said Danny Coleman, a frequent CityBus rider.
"They know they're going to stop because the bus will turn its flashers on and they wanna hurry up and get by them. That is a problem because people are getting on the buses and then there's sometimes people that are late and they're running across the road to get to the bus."
CityBus officials said if you find yourself driving behind a CityBus and it pulls over to make a stop, so should you.
"The four way flashers are an indication to other motorists that we are going to make a service stop," Connell said. "We would prefer that you wait and be patient."
Motorists in oncoming traffic are not expected to stop for a bus in the other lane, but are expected to drive at a slow rate while passing the stopped bus.
"The average dwell time for a person to board or alight a bus is less than 30 seconds," Connell said.
Connell explained that in the case of an emergency where you cannot wait and need to get around a stopped bus, you should do so at a speed of three to five miles per hour.
"And [drivers] need to make sure it's safe to do so, so they don't cross the center line of oncoming traffic," he said.
If motorists do cross that center line they could get a ticket.
Connell said CityBus is not planning to equip its buses with stop signs or flashing lights like school buses. However, CityBus will continue to have printed reminders for drivers to stop on the back of its vehicles.
Moral of the story is, slow down and share the road.
"One thing to keep in mind is that if all the people on the bus, if they weren't riding the bus and they were in their cars, there would be that much more traffic in the streets," Connell said. "So the delays would probably be even greater than stopping and waiting for the bus."
Connell told News 18 there are a lot of children that use public transit, and sometimes they're all alone.
He explained the biggest challenge with school-aged children is that as riders, they are taught to cross the road in front of a school bus.
On a CityBus, riders are encouraged to cross in the back.
"The yellow school bus [has] the stop arm, they have the flashing lights, so the driver is able to keep track of the children as they cross," Connell explained. "We don't have that luxury. We don't have the stop arm and we don't have the flashing red lights."
Connell said because this may be confusing to children, CityBus has outreach programs with local schools to instruct students on how to ride public transit.