• Law Enforcement Urges Drivers
    To Stop For Buses

    Posted by Josh Flory on 1/4/2019
    KCS Chief of Security Gus Paidousis speaks at a news conference about bus safety.
    KCS Chief of Security Gus Paidousis speaks at a news conference about bus safety.

    Law enforcement officials from across Knox County were at Central High School on Friday with a back-to-school safety message for drivers.

    At a news conference, KCS Chief of Security Gus Paidousis said that during the 2017-18 school year, bus contractors working for the district reported around 600 incidents in which drivers wrongly passed a bus that was loading or unloading students.

    Paidousis said it’s likely that the actual number of incidents was even higher, and urged drivers to remember that students will be back in school beginning Tuesday.

    “We’re all just working together to try to prevent a tragedy,” he said.

    Other participants at the news conference -- which can be viewed online -- included Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas; Knox County Sheriff Tom Spangler; and Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen.

    Thomas said that in some cases, drivers don’t understand when they’re required to stop for a school bus that is loading or unloading students.

    Drivers in both directions must stop on two-lane roads and also on multi-lane roads that are paved across, even if there’s a double-yellow line or a turning lane in the middle.

    When traveling in the opposite direction from a bus, drivers are not required to stop if there’s a concrete barrier or an unpaved median in the middle of the highway.

    “As drivers we all have to be aware of what children are doing,” Thomas added. “They’re unpredictable at times.”

    Spangler said law enforcement officials are united behind the goal of making sure that kids are safe. When drivers are approaching a bus, he said, “If you’re not sure, stop. It’s just that simple.”

    Allen, the county’s top prosecutor, said drivers can be fined up to $1,000 if they fail to stop for a bus that’s loading or unloading. But she said that in certain cases, other charges could be applicable, including a felony charge that includes jail time.

    Allen said people sometimes complain about getting stuck behind a bus, but urged drivers to account for that possibility when they hit the road.

    “When school’s in session, plan ahead,” she said. “There are going to be buses on the road.”

    A poster highlights the rules that govern stopping for school buses.