GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT News)-- It’s federal law. You must stop when a school bus is making a stop to either pick students up or drop them off. But recent footage sent in by a viewer shows many people driving right on by. High school student Eliza Smith says she sees this happen to her peers all the time.
“They just kind of are impatient,” says Smith.
Student Transportation of America runs District 51’s buses and says they also see this way too often. About 80% of violations are reported by the bus drivers.
“On a daily average I’d say nine to twelve individuals in this valley will run our lights. That’s pretty significant. Take that state wide, and that’s well over 7,000 a day potentially…. A lot of the time they are in a rush, maybe they’re running late for work in the morning,” says Area General Manager for STA, Shane Anderson.
A school bus traffic violation is considered a class-one or class-two misdemeanor offense. In Colorado, those who violate the school bus law are subject to fines of up to $300, with a mandatory court appearance and six points on a driver's license. A second offense within a five-year period has a fine up to $1,000.
“I think unfortunately the public is not educated enough on the severity of breaking the laws when it comes to school bus safety,” says Anderson.
STA says this is what you should do when you see a stopped school bus with hazards on:
“Same traffic laws apply. When you see yellow, you should start to slow down and prepare to stop. The red light deploys our stop signs. When that stop sign is out, we cannot stress it enough to the public, we really need you to stop,” says Anderson.
Regardless of what side of the road you are on, “Stop behind them, wait patiently, make sure that there’s no kids or anything,” says Anderson.
“We are tasked with carrying the most precious cargo in the world. And that’s the last thing we’d want anybody to do: is to have a tragedy like that occur in our valley,” says Anderson.