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Ask NOW: What is required of school buses crossing tracks?

A school bus approaches the railroad tracks in Elm Grove. State law does not require bus drivers to open their door at a crossing.

A school bus approaches the railroad tracks in Elm Grove. State law does not require bus drivers to open their door at a crossing.

Dec. 17, 2013

Is there a rumor you'd like tracked down? Rory Linnane answers some of the mysteries of life in Brookfield and helps solve everyday problems.

Reader questions whether buses are breaking rules

Question: A reader said he saw three school buses in Elm Grove stop at railroad tracks without the driver opening the doors or turning on the lights. He wondered if those drivers were breaking the rules.

Answer: While some bus companies may have policies that include opening the doors at railroad crossings, Wisconsin law does not require it, said Elm Grove Assistant Police Chief Jason Hennen. What state law does require is that the driver of any bus carrying passengers must stop and look between 50 and 15 feet from a railroad crossing.

Hennen pointed out that sometimes it may look as though buses that do not stop are breaking this rule, but if the driver does not have any passengers, he or she is not required by law to stop. However, if you see a school bus roll through a crossing without hitting the breaks, and you do see children inside, you can call police. You will then have to make a written statement about the incident and be willing to testify about it. Alternatively, Hennen said, you could contact the bus company directly if you write down the bus number or license plate of the violating vehicle.

Email Rory Linnane with your question at rlinnane@jrn.com.

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