UTAH (ABC4 News) – Motor vehicles driving past school buses is an on-going nationwide issue, but with school starting back up, transportation officials remind the public to know the law.
In a 2019 study regarding illegal passing of school buses, Utah ranks 15th out 39 participating states.
“We had 917 red light violations,” says Ron Litchfield, a transportation specialist at the Utah State Board of Education.
Litchfield says Utah school districts with the highest illegal stop arm violations are: Alpine, Granite, Salt Lake, Davis and Canyons.
“That’s almost 50 percent of the buses will have somebody drive through the red lights each day,” Litchfield says.
With 54 illegal passings in the one-day study, Jordan School District ranks sixth and officials say one is too many.
“It’s imperative for the safety of our kids that these drivers really pay attention to what they’re doing,” says Paul Bergera, the Jordan School District director of transportation. “They need to pay attention to the red flashing lights, they need to pay attention to the stop arms that are right on the side of a school bus.”
Two high-violation areas in Jordan School District are at 1300 west in West Jordan and Jordan Gateway in South Jordan.
Conducting a one-day study at each of these morning and afternoon stops, ABC4’s Hailey Hendricks did not see anyone drive past a stopped school bus.
While stop-arm violations don’t occur every day for every bus driver, Jordan School District driver/special education router Shaun Dustin says he never knows when someone is going to pass.
“[I’m] constantly looking around the bus, trying to make sure the area is clear,” Dustin says.
And when a motorist does pass, Dustin says it’s frustrating.
“Most of the time I just want to be able to stop that person and be able to go up and ask them if they could live with themselves if they were to kill a child,” Dustin says.
Jordan School District officials say they have cameras on their school buses and can give video footage to police who can prosecute a person who passes a stopped school bus.
In Utah, it’s considered a class C misdemeanor and fines range from $100 to $500.
To learn more about the law regarding passing buses, click here.
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