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11-18-13: Drivers report school bus passing violations
11-18-13: Drivers report school bus passing violations
Posted on 11/18/2013

A one-day national survey conducted last May highlights the fact that too many people pass stopped school buses, even when red lights are flashing and stop paddles are extended.


Washington state participated in the survey on May 1, 2013. Of the 110 school districts that joined in the study, bus drivers reported more than 1,523 violations.


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


Puyallup School District bus drivers participated in that state survey and reported 170 vehicles passed stopped school buses on May 1. All of the buses had activated their flashing red lights and extended red stop paddles.


While the survey is a one-day snapshot, some Puyallup bus drivers report motorists pass stopped buses daily in this district, especially in high-traffic areas.


Karla Mahoney, a veteran 10-year bus driver in this district, recorded 19 violations on May 1 along her bus routes, which include roads to Stahl Junior High, as well as Fruitland and Zeiger elementary schools.


Many of the repeat violations on her routes, she said, occur along heavily-traveled roads such as 94th Avenue East near Zeiger Elementary, as well as on Meridian Avenue on South Hill.


“It only takes one or two minutes to load or unload students, but drivers are simply too impatient to wait,” Mahoney said. “They will actually gun it when they see my yellow warning lights on.”


Some motorists, she said, will move into a turn lane and keep driving straight to avoid stopping for the school bus. “It’s just plain dangerous,” she said. “They don’t know when a kid might go out into the street after we have dropped them off, turned off the flashing lights, and pulled away from our stop.”


When possible, Mahoney records the offender’s license plate and submits it to the school district, which forwards the information to law enforcement.


“There is no way they can’t see the flashing lights on my bus,” she said. “I look at them and think we have either driven their kids, drive their kids now, or will drive their kids or grandkids at some time in the future. I just wish they could be patient.”