GORHAM, Maine — Most Maine kids are back to school, or will be in the coming days, and that means more school buses will be hitting the roads across the state.
With more and more reports of drivers blowing by stopped buses, school officials and police departments are trying to get a message out to people: just stop.
“Daily,” bus driver Bryan McManus said. “It gets ridiculous after a while."
McManus and other drivers for Gorham schools went back to work Thursday for the first day of school. He said distracted drivers failing to stop for his bus has become all too common.
That is why Gorham Police Department put out a public service announcement urging drivers to understand that not stopping is not only dangerous, it is against the law.
Here’s how to react in a number of situations on the road:
Other police departments in Maine have taken to social media to get the message out. Auburn Police Chief Jason Moen posted a funny, Snapchat-filtered selfie video to the department’s page.
“Big yellow things? School buses. Red flashing lights? Means you gotta stop for them, folks,” Chief Moen said in the video.
Passing school buses is illegal in all 50 states.
In Maine, drivers can be fined upwards of $250 for the first offense. The driver can lose their license for 30 days for the second offense.
“People have to be aware and I think they should stop talking on their cell phones,” McManus said. “I'd say 90% of the people that go through them are on a cell phone."
Several Maine bus companies and school districts have found ways to try and keep students safer.
Buses in RSU 57 in Waterboro installed extended stop arms on their buses thanks to a new law allowing them in the state.
In Gorham, the buses do not have the stop arms, but have instead altered routes to make it so kids do not have to cross the road to board.
“We have to even change our routes around. It takes us longer now,” McManus said. “We can't let the students cross in front of the buses because it's so bad.”