Thousands of Alabama Drivers Illegally Pass School Buses Each Day
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), illegal bus passing is a major national issue, as there are a significant number of violators, even though passing is illegal in all 50 states.
In Alabama, there were 1,390 incidents of cars illegally passing stopped school buses in a single day in 2018. However, only 1,064 citations were issued throughout the entire year.
To help catch those who illegally pass, some school buses in the state are implementing external cameras, yet this is not widespread. However, installing cameras does not automatically hold the driver accountable.
This is because having the license plate number is not enough. The person driving the vehicle must be identified. Most times, the driver cannot be positively determined due to a lack of camera footage, and warrants are not issued.
The NHTSA explained that the illegal passing issue is three-pronged as many motorists go against the law, instances are often not reported and there is a lack of enforcement. As indicated above, under current laws, it can be difficult to identify those who are going against the law, therefore making enforcement nearly impossible.
When Must Drivers Slow Down and Stop?
When you see yellow flashing lights on a bus, this indicates the school bus driver is approaching a stop. Vehicles on both sides of the road must slow down. Once the bus has red flashing lights and the stop sign extended, all vehicles must stop until children are safely on the bus and the extended stop sign is pulled in and the bus begins to move.
What Fines Do Drivers Currently Face?
Drivers who illegally pass a school bus could face fines from $150-$300 for the first offense, $300-$500 for the second offense, $5,000 -$1,000 for the third offense and $1,000-$3,000 for the fourth offense. After the first offense, drivers could be required to complete hours of community service and face license suspensions. It is also important to note that at the fourth offense, drivers are charged with a Class C felony.
The Bottom Line
Drivers should never illegally pass a school bus. Stopping helps ensure that children are safe entering and exiting their buses. Even if it takes a few extra moments in your morning commute, it is not worth risking a child’s safety, expensive fines or losing driving privileges by illegally passing.
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