Police looking for drivers illegally passing school buses

Credit: Deren Martinez/KTVB

Police looking for drivers illegally passing school buses

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by Scott Evans

Bio | Email | Follow: @ScottEvansKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on October 31, 2013 at 3:23 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 31 at 5:19 PM

MERIDIAN – Safety is a big concern for parents, schools and police as students get to and from school.

Meridian Police see a growing problem with drivers passing school buses while the buses pick up students.

That's why officers were out in force Thursday morning, working with the Meridian School District to catch people who are breaking the law.

At street corners and driveways, Monday through Friday, early in the morning, you'll find students standing, waiting for school buses.

As the days get shorter and shorter, the students become harder and harder to see.

What's easy to see are the bright yellow and red flashing lights of a school bus as it approaches its stop.

While following the buses, officers pulled over one driver.

"Now the reason why I stopped you this morning, of course was a school stop arm violation. In Idaho, you're required to stop for a school bus when its stop arm is extended," said Officer Randall Goodspeed to a man driving a white passenger van.

Goodspeed says the red lights and the stop arm was extended for about two seconds before the driver passed the bus going 15 to 20 miles per hour.

"He assumed he made it through the stop, just like a red light," said Goodspeed.

Last year, school bus drivers were able to get the license plate of 77 drivers who illegally passed a school bus. For every license they get, they say there are five more they don't get.

"That's why we're out here this morning to enforce the school stop arm violations, okay, we're having problems with those," said Goodspeed.

Cpl. Myron Severson is responsible for investigating the information the bus company passes on. He believes this problem is getting worse as traffic increases.

"When it comes to our children, it is an important issue. We need to keep our children safe," said Severson.

But officers can't be everywhere, and bus drivers only catch people after the fact. That's why officers are pushing for more education.

Before each stop, bus drivers will flash the yellow lights at 200 feet. When they stop, they extend the stop arm, turn the red lights on, then open the doors.

"If they knew that information I think it would help them better estimate when they need to stop," said Severson.

This all comes down to safety. Stopping when you see the red lights and beginning to stop when you see the yellow lights. Oncoming traffic on a highway of more than three lanes is not required to stop upon meeting a school bus with flashing lights.

Passing a school bus while its red lights are flashing is a misdemeanor, not just a citation. The tickets are anywhere from $100 to $500.

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