California Highway Patrol officers last week issued four citations for motorists who failed to stop for school buses in an enforcement operation in unincorporated Gilroy.
Authorities said they also issued one verbal warning, and educated an “untold” number of motorists, parents and students on the importance of school bus pedestrian safety during the March 28 crackdown.
“School bus safety is a key issue in our community, and the CHP is committed to upholding pedestrian safety laws to protect the public,” reads a March 29 press release announcing the results of the sting.
During the March 28 operation, CHP officers rode as passengers on school buses, actively watching for motorists who failed to stop for a bus with its flashing red lights activated and stop sign arm extended. These officers, posing as passengers, were in communication with CHP patrol officers in the area of the school bus. If a driver was observed illegally passing a school bus, a patrol officer stopped them and issued a citation or warning, police said.
At the conclusion of the Gilroy area operation, four citations were issued and one verbal warning was delivered, according to CHP.
The California Association of School Transportation Officials contacted the CHP to request assistance in promoting school bus pedestrian safety. The school bus officials noted that the 2016 annual California Department of Education School Bus Illegal Passing Driver Survey found that more than 26,000 motorists failed to stop for a school bus that was stopped to load or unload children.
The CHP also took the request as an opportunity to “strongly remind” motorists of the law when it comes to stopping for school buses or their passengers:
- When a school bus’s red lights are flashing, motorists may not pass the bus. Motorists must stop from either direction until children entering or exiting the school bus have safely crossed the street and the red lights stop flashing;
- Yellow flashing lights on a school bus warn motorists to slow down and prepare to stop;
- Be alert when children are standing at a school bus stop, as children are often unpredictable and may dart out in front of traffic without heed for traffic hazards or risks.
The CHP also offered advice for parents to pass on to their kids in order to be safe pedestrians and school bus passengers:
- Arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes early and stand at least 10 feet away from the road;
- Do not let your child play running games, or push, or shove at the bus stop;
- If your child drops something near the bus, warn them not to try to pick it up. Instead, the child should tell the bus driver and wait for assistance to pick up the dropped object. If a child bends over to pick up a dropped object, they might not be seen by the bus driver and could be struck by the bus;
- Remind children to look to the right before they step off the school bus. Motorists sometimes try to pass buses on the right;
- If children must cross the street to get to the bus, remind them to wait for the bus driver to signal that it is safe to cross. Children should not get on or off the school bus until the bus driver says it is safe to do so;
- When walking, practice good pedestrian behavior and walk on the sidewalk, if there is one. If there is no sidewalk, walk single file, facing traffic and stay on the shoulder as far off the road as possible.
Funding for the March 28 enforcement was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.