Vehicles illegally passing school buses continues to be a safety concern, according to transportation directors for the county and city school districts.
Nearly 80,000 vehicles passed school buses illegally in a one-day observation survey recently released by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services. A total of 102,371 buses participated in the survey, which included 26 states – but not Kentucky – and found that 78,518 illegal passes had occurred.
“The stop arm violations are still an issue,” said John Odom, transportation director for Warren County Public Schools.
Since the county school year started Aug. 11, Odom said, 15 violations have already occurred. Warren County schools have never had a child who was hit, but there have been close calls, Odom said. Stop arm violations are a concern because “it could cause a child to get hit and killed,” he said.
Bowling Green Independent School District Transportation Director Michael McCloud said stop arm violations are “almost a daily occurrence.”
Children inside the district’s school buses are safe, McCloud said, but they
become vulnerable once they leave or are boarding.
“It really comes down to people not paying attention or not being aware of the rules regarding school buses,” McCloud said. He noted that drivers should stop when they see lights flashing on a bus and not proceed until the flashing ends.
Illegal passes in the study were broken down into “AM”, “Mid-day” and “PM” categories, with nearly 50 percent of the violations seen during the afternoon or evening. About 46 percent were observed in the morning, while the remaining violations were observed at midday. Nearly 2 percent of passes happened on the right side – where children exit and enter the bus – but most of the passes happened on the left at about 98 percent.
As of July, 23 stop arm charges were initiated through the Warren County Attorney’s Office. The statewide total as of July was 62. In 2014, the county total was 20, and the statewide total was 114. The numbers for 2013 were 59 in the county and 149 in the state, and in 2012 those numbers were 70 in county and 191 statewide.
“As you can see in year 2012, Warren County authorized 36.6 percent of the statewide total of stop arm charges, in 2013 Warren County at 39.6 percent of the state total, in 2014 we had 17.5 percent of the total and for this year through July 31 we authorized 37 percent of the total,” said Darrel Bragg, a detective with the Warren County Attorney’s Office, in an email.
Odom offered advice to drivers.
“The one thing I would say would be to pay attention to the lights and to the stop arm because that child’s life is precious and we don’t want a child hurt or killed in Warren County,” Odom said.