The first national survey of stop-arm running found that more than 76,000 vehicles illegally passed school buses in a one-day snapshot.

The survey, conducted by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS), collected data from 28 states this spring. NASDPTS President Mike Simmons presented the results on Monday at the opening session of the Southeastern States Pupil Transportation Conference in Oklahoma City.

Just under 112,000 school buses were involved in the survey, accounting for about 24 percent of the school buses in the U.S. The bus drivers reported 37,756 total stop-arm passing incidents, some of which involved several vehicles, with a total of 76,685 vehicles passing. NASDPTS noted that while reports weren't available from all states, the 76,685 vehicles counted in a day by the participating states represent well over 13 million illegal passes of school buses in a typical 180-day school year.

“Others who are not already familiar with how often illegal passes occur will view these numbers as alarming," Simmons said. "We hope these results trigger more safety countermeasures within states and at the national level, including greater motorist awareness, greater enforcement, and tougher, more uniform laws.”

One particularly noteworthy finding was that 3.1 percent of the violations were motorists passing the bus on the right side, where students load and unload. "I was really shocked by that," NASDPTS Executive Director Bob Riley told SBF.

Riley said that the association has sent the survey results to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other transportation agencies, as well as to auto organization AAA. A press release was also distributed, and Riley said that he has been getting a lot of calls from media outlets.

Riley noted that although some states have done their own illegal passing counts in the past, this is the first time that a national survey has been conducted. NASDPTS plans to coordinate another one next year.

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