During the one-day survey, 79,859 school bus drivers reported 51,593 vehicles passing buses...

During the one-day survey, 79,859 school bus drivers reported 51,593 vehicles passing buses illegally during the 2021-22 school year.

Photo: File, Lois Cordes

More than 51,000 vehicles illegally passed stopped school buses on a single day during the 2021-22 school year while bus drivers participated in the annual National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) survey.

The association released the results of its 10th survey on illegal passing, which yielded participation from 22% of the nation's school bus drivers in 34 states.

According to a NASDPTS news release, extrapolation from the sampling of bus drivers suggests that motorists committed more than 41.8 million violations during the 180-day school year.

"These numbers, when adjusted for 100% of the school bus drivers across the country, show that, unfortunately, illegal passings of stopped school buses are at an epidemic level," said Pat McManamon, NASDPTS president. "Too often the safety of our nation’s children is put into question simply because motorists are either not paying attention or are in a hurry.  This is simply unacceptable. Motorists must understand the rules of the road and must follow them every single day."

The survey, which skipped 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent school closures, has been conducted since 2011. It helps NASDPTS raise awareness among state and federal policymakers when it comes to the need for increased safety countermeasures. Several states have boosted penalties for violations, authorized use of photo evidence for issuing citations, or enacted other measures designed to deter this dangerous practice.

As the new school year ramps up throughout the country, NASDPTS encourages state directors, local school districts, law enforcement agencies, legislators, and America’s motoring public to redouble their efforts to reduce the ongoing threat to the safety of students posed by distracted driving and illegal passing of school buses.

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