Police remind drivers to stop for buses or pay big fine

School's only been back in session for a couple of weeks, and already there have been complaints of drivers zipping by school buses during pick-up and drop-off periods.

The blinking stop sign, attached to a retractable arm on school buses, has been getting passed by throughout town, and police say drivers don't seem to understand the danger (and hefty fine) that turning a blind eye to a signal, regardless of which lane they're in, can amount to.

Police Chief Michael Lombardo said the department has received complaints from both residents and bus drivers, and officers are on the lookout for infractions, ready to issue $460 tickets per violation.

"The law is you cannot pass a school bus with its flashing red lights out," Chief Lombardo said. "Even if you're on Route 7, as wide as it is, you've got to make a complete stop."

Police Commissioner Chris Weldon said reckless drivers are posing a hazard to children in the area, and officers want to remind drivers that Route 7 does not have a dividing median, and traffic moving in both directions must obey bus stops.

Lisa Smith, parent and president of the Cider Mill PTA said she has seen instances of cars passing buses on Route 7.

"I have three small children and on my way to school I see cars on the opposite side not stopping, or — when they see the lights flashing — a car speeding up to pass the bus before it stops."

Ms. Smith said she is aware the reckless driving has become an issue, even more so since Route 7 was widened. She recommends frustrated drivers remember what is at stake.

"If you leave at a certain time you can be stuck behind a bus a long time. But it's kids; you need to take a deep breath," she said.

Maggie Dobbins, president of the Wilton High School PTA, said she is concerned Route 7 has become unsafe for students near the high school.

Ms. Dobbins has been working to gain support for an initiative to put in a school zone crossing area in the Route 7 stretch by Wilton High. The current crossing path is unsafe and not properly marked, she said.

"Nothing stops anyone on Route 7 nowadays — it is becoming an expressway," she said.