State pupil transportation directors are conducting a nationwide survey to determine how many motorists illegally pass stopped school buses — an ongoing problem that results in multiple student fatalities each year.

At its conference in Portland, Ore., last fall, the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) had a panel discussion on the contributing causes of loading zone incidents and potential areas for improvement.

Agreeing on the need for reliable national data on illegal bus passing, members passed a resolution to coordinate a national survey.

The resolution notes that “several states have conducted counts of stop arm violations and the results have proved useful in showing the magnitude of the problem to law enforcement, state and federal agencies and the general public.”

Earlier this month, NASDPTS informed state directors of the plans for the survey and solicited every state’s participation. Each state was asked to choose a single target day on which to have school bus operators (public and contracted) observe and report whether motorists illegally pass their school buses.

States were asked to conduct the survey on a state-designated, representative school day sometime during the window of March 1 to May 15.

States will be asking each driver to complete the uniform survey form that NASDPTS provided, even if they have no observed incidents, to ensure reliable data on the rate of illegal passing incidents. Drivers who actually observe illegal passes will additionally report the time of day, how many motorists passed, from what direction and on which side of the bus.

“The form is concise and easy to complete so drivers can attend to their primary task of ensuring student safety while driving, especially during the critical loading and unloading sequence,” the association said in announcing the project.

States will collect the data and report them to NASDPTS in a web-based survey that has already been developed. Later this year, the association will share the national findings with the entire student transportation community.

Those with questions about their state’s survey date or other plans should contact their state pupil transportation director, whose contact information can be found here.

More information on the project can be found here or by contacting NASDPTS members Derek Graham or Charlie Hood.

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