National Stop-Arm Survey Counts 78K Illegal Passes of School Buses

Thomas McMahon
Posted on August 7, 2017
About 104,000 school bus drivers participated in this year’s one-day count of stop-arm running. File photo courtesy NHTSA
About 104,000 school bus drivers participated in this year’s one-day count of stop-arm running. File photo courtesy NHTSA

The latest national survey of stop-arm running found that nearly 80,000 drivers illegally passed school buses in one day.

In the seventh annual survey, coordinated by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS), 29 states and the District of Columbia participated, with 104,468 school bus drivers reporting that 77,972 vehicles illegally passed their buses on a single day earlier this year.

The finding equates to a violation rate of 0.75 vehicle passes per bus, which is consistent with surveys from recent years. The 2016 survey showed a violation rate of 0.77, as did the 2015 edition.

“We know that students are far safer in school buses, but when they are outside the bus, they are more vulnerable to injury or death,” said Diana Hollander, president of NASDPTS. “Any driver who passes a stopped school bus illegally is endangering children and is subject to significant fines and possibly other penalties."

NASDPTS noted that the annual survey has brought more attention to the stop-arm running issue among state and federal policymakers. The violation data have also helped industry associations to promote the need to stop for school buses and to push for stronger penalties for offending motorists.

“The survey results demonstrate the importance of redoubling our efforts to educate the motoring public about the potentially tragic consequences of violating school bus stopping laws,” Hollander said.

Detailed survey results from 2017 and past years are available at

Related Topics: danger zone, NASDPTS, stop-arm running/illegal passing

Thomas McMahon Executive Editor
Comments ( 4 )
  • Ricky Johnson

     | about 3 years ago

    I am a current school bus driver. I do not know about other states, but here in NC we are required to be able to identify the driver in order to make the violation stick. It is 6:45 am January 15th, it is raining, the person that runs my stop arm has tint on their windows. Or it is 4:30 pm in late fall, the low sun is hitting the oncoming car from the passenger-side rear quarter, the driver is in heavy shadow and has a cell phone stuck in their ear. In either situation it is impossible to be 100% certain who is driving. Increasing fines, adding jail time, all would probably help, but only if you are able to make a conviction stick. Last year I had 11 stop arm violations, seven of the drivers were using their cellphone and were oblivious to the outside world. My worst fear is sitting in that bus seat and watching a child who has ridden my bus for three or four years get hit by a selfish, self-centered blowhard not paying attention to their driving.

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