Schools are back in session. Traffic is heavy. School buses lumber along and drivers get impatient.
Over a fifth of school bus drivers taking part in a one-day survey last spring reported nearly 78,000 incidents of motorists illegally passing stopped buses, according to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS). That equates to 14 million violations across a 180-day school year, NASDPTS says.
Every state has a law against passing a school bus when its red lights are flashing and its stop-arm extended. The fines are steep, and passing a stopped bus can mean points against a driver’s license. But it can also result in a child’s injury or death. About 16 children are killed getting on or off school buses every year, according to School Transportation News.
Last February, an 11-year-old boy was killed in Northwestern Pennsylvania after exiting his bus. Roads were icy, and investigators found that the driver who struck him was going too fast for the conditions. The boy’s family has filed a lawsuit against the driver, along with the school bus driver, the bus company, and the school district. They claim the district approved their son’s bus route for financial reasons, even though it meant he had to cross a busy road.
Drivers need to know the law about passing school buses and follow it. They should adjust their driving to road conditions, and give themselves enough time to get where they’re going. Or, just be late.