‘Safety’s first’: Drivers cautioned to slow down for school buses

A school bus driver’s number one responsibility is to keep the children safe, bus driver Brenda Ruatti said.
Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 6:05 PM EDT
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GLADSTONE, Mich. (WLUC) - School is back in session, and the big yellow buses with the yellow and red flashing lights are once again cruising through neighborhoods.

A school bus driver’s number one responsibility is to keep the children safe, Bus Driver Brenda Ruatti said.

“Safety’s first,” Ruatti said. “Safety is key!”

Ruatti has been a bus driver for Gladstone Public Schools for three years. She said other drivers often get too close.

“There is a lot of tailgating where they’re right up on you,” Ruatti said. “They can’t predict where we’re going to stop, and if you’re really up on us, are you really going to see our caution lights going off?”

Michigan State Police Trooper Shiloh Rutherford said drivers need to slow down and be aware.

“We spent all summer out there driving around, not seeing those big yellow things,” Rutherford said. “So, number one is just to be aware that they’re out there.”

She said being aware includes following school bus safety laws.

“When you see those yellow lights start to flash, alright, it means slow down,” Rutherford said. “So, it’s not the time to pass.”

When the red lights start to flash, drivers must come to a complete stop. If the driver doesn’t stop, they could be cited between $100 and $500.

Rutherford said, even if a law enforcement officer isn’t in the area, school buses now have cameras to record license plates.

“So, that school bus may capture that information, and we can find you that way,” she said.

Ruatti cautions other drivers to take their time to keep kids safe.

“Just be aware that we are carrying our young little humans, and they are our precious cargo,” she said. “We are totally responsible for them on our buses. As a community, just take a breath. Be cautious when you do see the yellow bus.”

She added when people are in a hurry, they should just leave the house early.