NESHOBA COUNTY, Miss. (WTOK) - Earlier this month, five students were killed due to drivers not paying attention to school bus lights and stop signs. One of those five children being a nine year old boy from Tupelo, Miss.
In wake of the tragic school bus accidents that have happened across the country, state officials are urging drivers to pay attention to school buses on the road.
"I would just ask everyone to think before you try to pass a school bus under any circumstance. A matter of seconds could make the difference of a child's life,” says Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant.
This is not only a problem nationally; it's also a problem right here at home. Jolynn McKinion has been a bus driver for the Neshoba County School District for almost ten years. She says a day doesn't go by that someone doesn't run her stop sign or speed past her bus.
"I had three cars run my stop sign. I was laying on my horn, literally. There was this man and women sitting in a truck and the women said what in the world. I was just thinking, every day lady, every day,” says McKinion in a video posted to Facebook.
McKinion and others want kids, parents, and especially drivers to understand how important it is to watch buses and the students getting on or off them.
"Kids' lives are in danger. My main concern would be parents educating their kids to watch the bus drivers, pay attention to bus drivers because we have to pay attention to the road,” explains McKinion.
"We've always had a problem with people being in a hurry trying to get around buses. That's when our kids are loading and unloading. It's the most dangerous time for them. We just want the public to be aware of it and pay attention to them,” says Neshoba County School Transportation Director Michael Thomas.
Nathan's Law requires drivers to stop at least ten feet away from a stopped school bus. It also authorizes a charge of felony assault and a prison sentence of up to 20 years for drivers convicted of illegally passing a school bus that results in injury or death.
"People's lives have gotten so fast paced now that they think they have to keep going and they are not thinking about the safety of the kids," says McKinion.
Buses are on the roads starting around 6:00 each morning until 8:00 a.m. Then again from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.
When driving in front of or behind a school bus, keep in mind the yellow flashing lights mean a bus is about to stop. The red flashing lights mean a bus is stopped. Drivers who pass a stopped bus could face up to a $750 fine and more.