In a recent one-day survey, Arkansas school bus drivers reported more than 850 instances where motorists illegally passed stopped school buses. This increasing trend continues to cause concern across the state.
A total of 3,258 school bus drivers representing 194 school districts participated in the one-day survey, which was held April 24. Drivers reported each instance that occurred where a motorist passed a stopped school bus that had its red lights flashing and its stop sign extended. The number of occurrences increased more than 100 from 2017, when drivers reported 726 incidents.
“The results from this year’s survey are alarming,” said Jerry Owens, the senior transportation manager for the Arkansas Division of Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation. “One incident is one too many. I want to strongly remind all motorists that it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus that has its red lights flashing and stop sign extended. In most cases, this also applies to motorists who are traveling on the opposite side of the road. Remember: Flashing Red. Kids Ahead."
At the request of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, the Arkansas Division of Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation conducts the survey each year. Both NASDPTS and the state use the results to determine the prevalence of illegal passing of school buses in an effort to improve safety measures. One such effort is ADE’s Flashing Red. Kids Ahead. campaign that is launched each August.
“Whether it is the beginning of the school year or the end, school bus safety remains a priority year-round,” Owens said. “Each one of us has a responsibility to ensure that all students arrive to and from school safely.”
The fines, penalties and punishment for anyone found guilty of illegally passing a stopped school bus were dramatically increased by Act 2128 of 2005. To learn more about the law and the Flashing Red. Kids Ahead. campaign, visit http://www.arkansased.gov/divisions/communications/flashing%20red.%20kids%20ahead.