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National Study Finds 88K Illegal Bus Passing Incidents in One Day

In Michigan, more than 600 vehicles illegally passed participating school buses during the study.

As students head back to school, a national association representing directors of pupil transportation warns that motorists across the country continue to illegally pass school buses as many as 16 million times a year. 

The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) last month released the results of its 2nd annual survey on illegal passing of school buses. About 20 percent of the nation’s school bus drivers, from 28 states, participated in a one-day survey to report how many times motorists passed their stopped school buses while the buses were stopped displaying their flashing red lights and stop arms.   

In Michigan, 1,439 participating drivers reported 609 illegal passing incidents, evenly split between morning and afternoon. 

Nearly 100,000 drivers nationwide reported that 88,025 vehicles passed their buses illegally on a single day. Throughout a 180-day school year, these sample results alone point to nearly 16 million violations by private motorists, the NASDPTS reports. 

“There are over 480,000 school buses on the road each day in the United States,” Mike Simmons, NASDPTS president, said in a press release. “Students are far safer in school buses than the other ways they get to school, but when they are outside the bus, they are the most vulnerable. Any driver who passes a stopped school bus illegally is gambling with a child’s life.”

Bryce September 04, 2012 at 12:20 PM
I think part of the problem is due to confusion. When do you actually have to stop for a school bus on the side of the road? When the flashing red lights are on is easy to figure out. In Farmington/Farmington Hills, I see school buses letting children off with yellow hazard light flashing, are you required to stop then? On a five lane road with a left turn lane in the middle, It's obvious that you must stop if traveling in the same direction of the bus, however, not so obvious if you are on the other side of the road traveling in the other direction. Might be a good idea for a follow up article to go over in detail the rules as it pertains to stopping for buses.
Judy Moldovan September 04, 2012 at 01:08 PM
I don't think it is just school buses people don't pay attention to. I witness almost daily drivers who don't pull over for emergency vehicles, make left or right turns from lanes they're not supposed to, pass in left turn lanes and go through red lights because there is no traffic. I think maybe so many people are waiting till after age 18 to get their license they don't really have any drivers training and don't know the rules of the road or they are driving with no license at all. The roads are a dangerous place these days!
Joni Hubred-Golden September 04, 2012 at 01:34 PM
That's a good suggestion, Bryce. According to the video, motorists are required to stop when the red lights and stop arm are displayed, except when there's a divided highway. But I can't imagine why bus drivers would let kids out with just a flashing yellow light. Judy, I agree that people aren't paying attention out there! Distracted driving is a big problem, too.
Gary Connor September 04, 2012 at 04:40 PM
The first time I encountered a school bus stopped with only yellow flashers I thought it was a mistake or a malfunction. The second time, I drove straight to the Farmington police station and asked what was going on. The officer I spoke to said it was a rule change made in order to lessen delays and backups on the major roads. She said she also did not like the new rule, but that I should just use my best judgement in that situation. My best judgement is to not hit a kid. But I also do not want to get rear-ended by one of the irresponsible and or illegal drivers that are everywhere today. Its a terrible rule change and should be corrected before a tragedy results because someone was trying to save 15 seconds to get to the mall or grocery store.
David Anderson September 05, 2012 at 12:00 PM
According to FPS, they have gone to great lengths to assure the drop-off/pick-up of students does not require the students to cross roads. Because of this, the majority (all?) of the busses use their yellow lights instead of their red lights. On a side note, I am staggered at the number of oblivious drivers. You see a stopped bus, regardless of lights, you use extreme caution. Uggh, the self-centeredness of our society. Take a moment, pause and breathe, to assure you aren't ruining a life.

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