Monday, August 29th is the first day of school in Missoula and that means drivers need to take extra precautions when driving near schools and buses. Missoula Police Department Sergeant Greg Amundsen explains.

“As soon as the lights turn red it is against the law to pass that bus on either side,” said Amundsen. “It doesn’t matter if it is to the left or right. It doesn’t matter if you are passing the bus from behind or if you are passing the bus when you are approaching from the front. The purpose of the amber lights is to give you warning that they are going to stop. If you see the amber lights flashing and the bus isn’t moving very fast I would say just go ahead and stop because the red lights are going to come on and that stop sign is going to come out very soon.”

Amundsen could not recall a time where he personally saw a child get hit while getting on or off a bus, but he says it happens almost every year.

“A few times during the school year we will have kids get hit in crosswalks,” Amundsen said. “Just show some extra caution because children are short. You don’t necessarily see them behind the cars that are parked next to the road. When they ride their bikes, they often ride their bike on the sidewalk and then they can use the crosswalk to cross the street without getting off their bike. They are going to be coming off the sidewalk faster than a person walking so it takes a little bit of extra caution to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

The law says vehicles must stop 30 feet before reaching school buses when the red lights are on.