The news is full of stories warning motorists to be aware of buses and students, especially at the beginning of the school year. Yet drivers continue to pass school buses illegally, putting law enforcement officials and pupil transportation professionals at their wits’ end.
Nearly 80,000 vehicles illegally passed school buses in a one-day survey conducted in multiple states in 2014. This was the fifth edition of the survey, launched by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) in 2011.
In 2015, a total of 102,371 school bus drivers in 26 states participated. That represents about one-fifth (21%) of the nation’s estimated 485,000 school bus drivers. The one-day tally of stop-arm violations was 78,518. NASDPTS officials noted that this figure can be multiplied to more than 14 million illegal passes of the buses surveyed in a 180-day school year. NASDPTS officials said that the most alarming finding of the survey is that 1,483 (about 2%) of the total illegal passes were on the right side of the bus, where students load and unload!
Study has found that the public is largely ignorant of the law prohibiting the passing of a school bus when the stop sign is activated and red lights are flashing or, have simply forgotten this section of the state handbook they used to get their driver’s license – sometimes many years ago. The law goes unenforced in many areas because police officer are not on hand to catch violators. The best way to deter violators is to inform the public of the law and prevent the violation from ever happening.
NASDPTS officials said that the data collected helps in raising public awareness about illegal passing of school buses, making policy changes and targeting violators – all with the goal of increasing student safety. States are trying to combat this safety issue with billboards and public service announcements. Hopefully this blog will help get the word out!