The Commonwealth Journal on state law in Kentucky regarding children and school buses:

It's August and that means local schools will be buzzing with activity as they commence another year of educating our children.

What that means for local drivers is that it's time to be aware of school buses and school children as you make your way to work in the mornings and back home in the evenings.

Kudos to Pulaski County Attorney Martin Hatfield and his staff for announcing that his office will "aggressively prosecute" citations involving school-bus arms violations.

Naturally, local law enforcement isn't on hand to see every infraction. So Hatfield is asking school bus drivers to seek criminal complaints through his office against motorists who commit such violations.

This is serious business.

It's real simple — if you see a bus stopped, with its sign arm out, you stop, too. And that's the law. It is designed to prevent impatient motorists from wheeling around buses — and possibly striking a child trying to get across the street.

"Kentucky law states all motorists must stop any time a school bus is loading or unloading children and its stop sign arm is extended from the side of the bus," Hatfield explained last week. "Motorists are to remain stopped until that arm is retracted. While many motorists may want to proceed as soon as the students have stepped on the bus, bus drivers must wait for the students to be seated before retracting the stop sign and putting the bus back into motion."

From a practical standpoint, the penalties are stiff for violators. Minimum penalties for the first offense include a fine of $100-200, 30-60 days in jail, or both; and six points assessed against the violator's driving record. For subsequent violations within a three-year period, the penalties substantially increase.

"Every motorist in the county must be very vigilant each morning and afternoon as our students are being transported to and from school," Hatfield stated. "Do not just be watching the big yellow bus with the flashing red lights, but be aware of the little children that may rush and dart into the roadway from around the bus."

It's all about the children.

Let's all help them have a safe and joyous school year.

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