The results of a new survey released by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services confirms what many in the industry already know — far too many motorists nationwide illegally pass stopped school buses.
The survey, which was first released during the opening session of the Southeastern States Pupil Transportation Conference today by NASDPTS President Mike Simmons, included reports from 28 states in total. Information was gathered by school bus drivers recording how many times other motorists passed their school buses illegally while the buses were stopped and displaying their flashing red lights and stop arms.
“We gave the state directors a window from March 1 to May 15 to chose a day to report on,” said NASDPTS Executive Director Bob Riley, adding that the survey will be performed next year as well. “One of our considerations is to have a national day where everyone reports on the same day.”
Washington state passed a law earlier this year allowing school districts to add external video cameras to capture motorists who blow past stopped school buses. In doing so, the state also requires a one-day count, which is scheduled next year for May 1.
In the states that contributed to the survey, a total of 112,000 bus drivers reported 37,756 total stop arm passing incidents, altogether. One of the more eye-raising statistics was the fact that, out of all the illegal passings recorded, 3 percent occurred on the right side of the bus, where children unload.
The idea for the survey came about at last October’s NASDPTS conference in Portland during a state director-only session.
“The topic kept coming up, and then someone from the floor made the suggestion to perform a survey,” explained Riley. “Derek Graham [North Carolina] and Charlie Hood [Florida] volunteered to coordinate it.”
The overall goal of the project is to get a national interest in the issue to help prevent it from happening.
“It’s a problem that we in the industry have identified for many years and have worked to resolve without a whole lot of success. Something like this had never been done before on a national level,” added Riley.
The results of the survey have been sent to major media outlets around the country with the hope that the issue will get the national attention it deserves. NASDPTS President Mike Simmons will be presenting an overview of the findings in Reno at the upcoming STN EXPO.