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May 09, 2014  |   Comments (13)   |   Post a comment

Cars backing up after running a stop-arm?

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Kelly Aguinaldo is managing editor for SCHOOL BUS FLEET.

Kelly Aguinaldo is managing editor for SCHOOL BUS FLEET.

We at SBF are well aware of the problem of motorists illegally passing school buses that are stopped for students who are boarding or disembarking.

Another problem that we hadn’t heard of is drivers passing a stopped bus, realizing what they’d done and then backing up their car to where they should have stopped. A school bus driver contacted us about this issue, saying that she sees this happen often, and she is concerned about the safety hazards it presents. 

“I worry about the fact that their tailgates and back windows are taller than someone's little kid who may have to cross the road to board their bus,” the driver said. “We spend a lot of time teaching and refreshing our students on 'thumbs up,' but more needs to be done to teach the public to stay where you stop.”

I was curious to learn whether people at other operations were experiencing this problem, so I asked several transportation directors and supervisors in other states. A couple said that they have not, but others said that they have seen this happen in their district’s area of service.

When I asked these people if a motorist receives a citation from law enforcement if he or she backs up after passing a stopped bus, the answers varied. John Legus, transportation supervisor at Grand Ledge (Mich.) Public Schools, told me that under state law, the motorist can receive a citation.

“In one instance — only once — they [the motorist] did, as it was caught on camera,” Legus said.  

Lionel Pinn, director of transportation at Washington state’s Centralia/Chehalis Pupil Transportation Cooperative, told me that he believes it’s up to the discretion of law enforcement officials to determine whether the motorist would receive a citation under these circumstances.

“If they have truly passed an extended stop arm, then a citation should be issued,” Pinn said. “However, without speaking for the law enforcement agency, I would suggest that it’s a case-by-case decision of law enforcement.”

We would like to know if you’re seeing this issue as a trend in your area. Also, if you know whether the motorist would be cited in this situation, please mention that as well. Post a comment below.

Safe travels,

Kelly Aguinaldo
Managing Editor


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Read more about: stop arm running/illegal passing

Never had that happen here. I've had them drive up onto the side walk before but never backing up because they noticed they went through a school bus extended flashing stop sign. That is doing the samething twice - going through it the first time then backing up through it again while its flashing. Wish they could have posted that to U-tube's most stupid videos. Dan - Indiana

Dan Luttrell    |    May 12, 2014 04:24 AM

just last week

don mueller    |    May 12, 2014 04:35 AM

When I drove regularly, I had this happen about once per school year. It is something that drivers do bring up occasionally amongst one another, but feel that nothing can be done about it so they don't bring it to management or law enforcement. If they do bring it up, it is with a disclaimer that "they know nothing can be done."

Nicole Baker    |    May 12, 2014 04:41 AM

As retired police officer, now working as school district transportation specialist - the issue of a citation is almost always at the discretion of the observing officer. Once the violation has been committed, trying to "correct" it is almost always another violation - unsafe backing (or possibly cited as careless driving, etc. depending on the laws of the jurisdiction). In most jurisdictions an observing citizen can take steps to initiate the charges by filing a court complaint/warrant. I haven't seen a local school bus case, but do sometimes see a similar effort by the motorist who has violated a red light by passing over the stop bar. Jeff - Delaware

Jeff Townsend    |    May 12, 2014 04:48 AM

I had it happen - sort of - I was behind the driver - he swerved to the right shoulder & stopped bec he hadn't been paying attention. Then he just took off. I was lucky enough to get his tag number bec a tractor pulled out in front of him further down the road and he wasn't able to pass the tractor before I got his tag number. He admitted he ran the stop arm and was cited.

Karen House    |    May 12, 2014 04:56 AM

I have seen similar situations, however, being as our California regulations require that any student student K-8 required to cross the street during the loading / unloading process be escorted, the driver would be in the street. This deters from red light runners to a certain extent, however, there are exceptions there as well since many run when the driver is out of the way. The red light runners have occasionally also driven slowly (creeping) through the lights as if that makes the violation acceptable. Running the red lights is running the red lights, regardless.

Rebecca Washington    |    May 12, 2014 06:27 AM

This happens quite often in our area. I guess once someone figures out they have passed the extended stop arm and a driver coming out to cross students, the best thing to do is back up, WRONG. Once a driver backed up and almost hit another school bus behind me. If I get all the information needed, I will fax a letter to the CHP and they will send out a form letter about running the reds to the driver/ owner of the car. Because we escort all students I remind the drivers to be extra careful when coming out into the street.

Patti Reid    |    May 12, 2014 06:35 AM

This happens quite often in our district. It happens more often in the student pick-up and drop-off zones.

Tammy    |    May 12, 2014 08:24 AM

Here in Iowa, I've never heard of this happening. It almost adds insult to injury since they go through your stop arm one direction and then back it up and basically do it again. I'm absolutely certain the motorist would be cited here if it were to happen. I'd like to mention that NASDPTS conducts our yearly survey of stop arm violations, so perhaps this is something we should add to the criteria to find out just how widespread this problem might be. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Max Christensen, Presiden    |    May 12, 2014 09:43 AM

Happen just last week to one of my drivers, enabling the busdriver to get the license plate number so she could report the incident.

JoAnn    |    May 12, 2014 10:03 AM

Should you pass an activated stop arm, you should get a citation, period. No if's, but's or and's Let the driver learn a lesson they should not forget.

Knowie Castle Rivers    |    May 13, 2014 09:24 AM

Just like water, once it goes under the bridge its gone. The violation has been made and by backing,the driver has just comitted another violation backing through the stop sign. I do not understand what the big hurry is for drivers. Remember, even though we teach the children the correct way to cross the street,they can be distracted as well. A stop arm violation is not to be forgiven, the law has been broken. Two wrongs dont make a right.

Dan    |    May 14, 2014 05:09 AM

Happens to me almost daily.People don"t want to stop.

Jack Rice    |    May 14, 2014 06:46 AM

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