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.