KEARNEY, Neb. — Police here will be cracking down on illegal passing of school buses over the next two weeks.
The Kearney Police Department said that it has received several complaints over the past year about motorists passing school buses with their stop arms extended.
“This driving practice is both dangerous and illegal,” the Kearney Police Department said in a press release.
Kearney, situated in south-central Nebraska, is a city of about 30,000 people. Kearney Public Schools transports 556 students with a fleet of about 20 school buses.
Becky Reier, transportation director for Kearney Public Schools, told SBF that illegal passing of school buses has been an ongoing problem in her district, as in many others, often due to motorists driving distracted or not understanding the rules.
“People just run the stop arm — I don’t know how else to put it,” Reier said. “Either they don’t know there’s a bus, or they don’t know what the law is, or they think they don’t have to stop.”
Starting on Monday, shift officers with the Kearney Police Department will focus on those school bus stop-arm violations. The citywide effort will be conducted on school days for two weeks, ending on April 27.
“The ultimate goal of this project is to educate motorists and ensure the safety of the children in this community,” the Kearney Police Department said in its press release.
Police also reminded motorists about when they need to stop for a school bus — and the penalty for failing to do so. Stop-arm violations in Nebraska are misdemeanors that are punishable by a $500 fine.
In a one-day survey in 2016, 390 participating school bus drivers in Nebraska counted a total of 85 stop-arm violations.
At Kearney Public Schools, Reier said she hopes the local police initiative will help in promoting the importance of stopping for school buses that are loading or unloading students. Even so, she noted that the district’s school bus drivers are trained to be prepared for pass-bys.
“We try to tell the drivers they just have to be hypervigilant and understand that … you can’t expect people to stop for school buses,” Reier said.