POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - We all know those flashing stop signs on the sides of buses that pop out when they are stopping and the flashing yellow lights. But, sometimes drivers ignore them and it can have deadly consequences.
"The worst thing that can happen is when someone tries to come up and pass the bus on the right," Ronnie Martin, Transportation Director for Poplar Bluff Schools said.
The worst thing imaginable nearly became a reality for school bus driver J.R. Pyles.
"The door was open, and the the student was at the steps, and this car flew right at this side where we're at," J.R. Pyles said. "If he was just a few seconds later, he would have hit the girl."
J.R. Pyles has seen a lot since he starting driving in 2001. He has not seen many close calls like that, but he has seen many people pass the bus when it has the stop signs out.
"And when we stop and we open the door and we let the student out, we have some students that cross the front of the bus," Pyles said. "Well, if they don't stop, if they run that stop arm, they're going to hit a child."
Something that could not only change the life of the child's family but the driver's as well.
"For me personally, I wouldn't want that on my conscience and my heart. Because you have to live with that for the rest of your life, you could lose your license for ever. It just isn't worth it," Pyles said.
"As soon as them red lights come out on that school bus, you are obligated by state law and federal laws to stop," Martin said. "And to allow that school bus driver to do his job of boarding the kids safely onto the school bus."
Martin said a general rule is to give the bus about 50 feet on each side. Martin also said cars going both directions must stop, the only exception being if there is a median between you and the bus.
"I've seen instances where someone has been ticketed for running a stop arm," Martin said. "It depends on what county you're in, what state you're in, but the penalties can be severe. I do know they are more severe than your average speeding ticket."
"Just honor the lights and the stop arms. That's it, 2, 3 minutes…that's all," Pyles said.