Ohio driver Shena Hardin pleaded “not guilty” this week to charges that she drove on a sidewalk to go around a stopped school bus which was picking up students early last month. This is an interesting plea considering the school bus driver and police both have video of her vehicle not slowing down as she approached the stopped school bus, swerved onto the sidewalk and continued to roll down the road without slowing.

This week Hardin was in court for her actions. On Sept. 11 she was cited for failure to stop for a school bus and reckless operation of a motor vehicle.

According to the school bus driver Hardin had been failing to stop for the bus repeatedly and had been warned not to continue doing that. State law, in fact every state law, requires drivers to stop when school buses are stopped for loading or unloading students. These laws were enacted to protect students and drivers. Young children, school age children, often exhibit unpredictable behavior. When you mix pedestrians of any age with vehicles the chances for an accident to occur are always increased. School children, especially, are at risk, because they might dart into traffic, not be paying close attention as they make their way onto or off the school bus.

Making the situation even more unsafe, the sidewalk on which Hardin drove is right front of a daycare center. One worker there said she found Hardin’s behavior very dangerous because they often walk those children on that very sidewalk.

The fact that Hardin felt it necessary to drive on a sidewalk (which is also illegal) to avoid stopping for the school bus shows a complete disregard for the safety of the children which may be present and a complete disregard for traffic laws in Ohio.

Next time you see a stopped school bus, no matter what state you live on or how much of a hurry you might be in, slow down and stop. It’s not just the law, it’s also the best way to protect children from injury.