State survey shows 1,500 school bus passing violations

October 4, 2013

By Staff

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A one-day survey conducted nationally highlighted a disturbing fact — too many people pass stopped school buses.

The survey, coordinated by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation, asked public school districts in every state to have bus drivers record passing data for one day last spring. On May 1, Washington had 3,588 bus drivers in 110 districts participate, and they recorded 1,523 violations.

“Passing stopped school buses remains a serious problem,” said Randy Dorn, Washington’s superintendent of public instruction. “Every violation represents a potential accident and potential injury to a student.”

The survey had drivers record not only the number of vehicles that passed their stopped bus, but when the passing occurred, the side of the road it occurred on and the side of the bus it occurred on.

In the Issaquah School District, 106 bus drivers participated, and reported 39 vehicles passed buses on the left-hand side.

In the Renton School District, 45 drivers participated, and noted 65 violations. All but one vehicle passed the bus on the left-hand side.

The single vehicle that passed on the right represented one of 32 statewide instances of cars passing buses on the side where students enter the bus.

Twenty-nine states responded to the survey, with a total of 85,279 violations nationwide.

Extrapolating Washington’s data for all 295 districts over the 180-day school year, Dorn noted, would mean nearly 550,000 violations.

While no Washington students died from stopped-bus incidents in 2011 or 2012, Dorn said in a news release that he hopes the data will convince districts to look at the installation of on-board bus cameras.

“Legislation was passed in 2011 that gave districts the authority to place cameras in buses so that pictures can be taken of the violators and they can be ticketed,” Dorn said.

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