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New survey results reveal a slight increase in the rates of motorists observed on one day illegally passing stopped school buses, according to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS).

NASDPTS President Diana Hollander said that the goal of the survey is to educate the public, and “open their eyes” to the safety risks of violating school bus stopping laws.  “Any driver who passes a stopped school bus while students are getting on or off is gambling with children’s lives,” she said. “Violating your state’s law can result in significant fines or even more serious penalties.”

Most state laws require traffic in all directions to stop for school buses, unless a physical median or grass strip is present. However, Georgia removed that stipulation last month after enacting an updated school bus passing law. The state now allows oncoming traffic to continue moving when the median is a turn lane.

NASDPTS tallied 83,944 total illegal passing incidents, defined as at least one motorist passing a school bus with its federally mandated stop arm deployed, and red lights flashing when picking up or dropping off students, from one-day state counts held this spring. NASDPTS said 108,623 school bus drivers participated in the voluntary project.

“We know that students are far safer in school buses, but cars passing school buses is one of the most troubling problems we face, because it is so common, and can lead to injury or death,” added Hollander.

North Carolina had the most school bus drivers participate in this year’s survey at 12,751, or nearly 56 percent of all certified and active drivers in the state.  There are approximately 500,000 certified and active school bus drivers nationwide.

More than 15 million violations are estimated to occur nationwide over an entire school year.

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