76,000 Drivers A Day Blow Past School Bus Stop Signs, What Is Wrong With People?

By  | 

139681496Sometime in elementary school, children learn that a red octagonal sign means “STOP”. And by the time they become adults and get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle themselves, they apparently forget that seriously important lesson.

When a school bus is stopped to pick up or drop off students, a stop sign pops out of the side of the bus, usually with bonus flashing red lights just to remind busy drivers, “Hey, remember how you’re supposed to not put kids’ lives at risk just because you left home late and you want to stop at Dunkin Donuts before you go to the office?” And yet, stop-arm violations happen thousands of times a day–a survey last year of 97,000 bus drivers turned up almost 76,000 reports of drivers who decided that the stop sign didn’t really apply to them. That figure of 76,000 potential accidents, by the way, accounts for bus drivers in only 29 states and during one single school day.

The punishment for this particular flavor of reckless driving varies based on your state, but popular options are fines and tickets (which may be issued to the owner of the car rather than the driver), loss of your driver’s license, or even jail time. Or, in the memorable case of one woman who took her car onto the sidewalk to get around a stopped bus, a good old-fashioned public shaming might also be in order. The tricky part, though, is actually catching a driver in the act–not an easy thing to do when you’re a bus driver who’s also trying to keep the school-age kids on your bus in check and make sure they’re crossing the street safely. Another compounding factor, of course, is when it’s not just one car blowing past your stop sign, but a string of a dozen all in a row.

Some districts who have the funds available are adding cameras to their buses to catch perpetrators in the act; in other places, alarmed parents are taking it into their own hands to note down the license plate numbers of the “I’m too cool for stop signs” crowd. It’s ridiculous that it’s come to this, though. Is it really worth cutting 45 seconds or so off your commute time to breeze past a bus’s stop sign? According to, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics indicate that about eight children a year die in accidents resulting from motorists unwilling to spend a single minute waiting behind a stopped bus. If that sad fact isn’t enough to stop people from playing fast and loose with traffic laws, I’m not sure that all the fines, tickets, and public shame-fests in the world are going to make a difference.

(Image: Jerry Horbert / Getty)