THP report more drivers ignoring bus stop signs
Tennessee Highway Patrol say an average of 200 people driver past school buses with stop signs deployed.
It’s a basic rule drivers learn before they get behind the wheel, but the Tennessee Highway Patrol says hundreds of people break this law every day.
THP reports more drivers are speeding past school bus stop sign already this school year.
Talk to school bus drivers like Amanda Jones and they'll tell you how other vehicles on the road are putting kids in danger.
"I see it all the time, at least several times a week if not daily I have people running my stop sign,” Jones said.
Sgt. Alan Bailey with THP says with more than 12,000 buses on Tennessee roads multiple times a day troopers with THP are concerned.
"We've had several instances in this local area the kids have either been hit or even killed before,” Sgt. Bailey said.
In 2015, Sgt. Bailey said there was an average of 200 school bus stop sign violations issued per day in Hamilton County.
It’s an alarming number to THP, but bus drivers like Jones say this year has been worse than most.
"Just a few days ago I had to lay on my horn to get the child on my bus to stop because the car was running the stop sign and they never stopped they just looked at me,” Jones said.
Sgt. Bailey said not all violators intentionally break the law, but this picture provided by the Tennessee Highway Patrol shows the only time in Tennessee when drivers do not have to stop.
State law requires all vehicles to stop unless roadways are separated by a median or barrier.
"They think because there are so many lanes of traffic that you do not have to stop but they do have to stop unless there's a divided median,” Sgt. Bailey said.
Some school buses are now equipped with video cameras to catch violators in the act. THP is also stepping up patrols and riding inside school buses to dispatch back up when drivers speed by.
It’s a reminder Jones hopes drivers will think twice about when approaching her precious cargo.
"To think that I might see a child that I love as if they are my own. To think that I could see one of them die in front of me because someone's not paying attention,” Jones said.
Stop signs on school buses should be treated the same as any other traffic signal on the road.
Passing a school bus is considered a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in points against your driving record and up to $1,000 in fines plus court fees.
The Tennessee law states: The driver of a vehicle upon a highway, upon meeting or overtaking from either direction any school bus that has stopped on the highway for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school children, shall stop the vehicle before reaching the school bus, and the driver shall not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or is signaled by the school bus driver to proceed or the visual signals are no longer actuated. Subsection (a) shall also apply to a school bus with lights flashing and stop sign extended and marked in accordance with this subsection (a) that is stopped upon property owned, operated, or used by a school or educational institution, if the bus is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school children outside a protected loading zone. All motor vehicles used in transporting school children to and from school in this state are required to be distinctly marked "School Bus" on the front and rear thereof in letters of not less than six inches (6'') in height, and so plainly written or printed and so arranged as to be legible to persons approaching the school bus, whether traveling in the same or opposite direction. The driver of a vehicle upon a highway with separate roadways need not stop upon meeting or passing a school bus that is on a different roadway or when upon a controlled-access highway and the school bus is stopped in a loading zone that is a part of or adjacent to the highway and where pedestrians are not permitted to cross the roadway. For the purpose of this subsection (a), "separate roadways" means roadways divided by an intervening space that is not suitable to vehicular traffic. Except as otherwise provided by subdivisions (a) (1)-(3), the school bus driver is required to stop the school bus on the right-hand side of the road or highway, and the driver shall cause the bus to remain stationary and the visual stop signs on the bus actuated, until all school children who should be discharged from the bus have been so discharged and until all children whose destination causes them to cross the road or highway at that place have negotiated the crossing. It is a Class C misdemeanor for any person to fail to comply with any provision of this subsection (a) other than the requirement that a motor vehicle stop upon approaching a school bus. It is a Class A misdemeanor punishable only by a fine of not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) for any person to fail to comply with the provision of this subsection (a) requiring a motor vehicle to stop upon approaching a school bus.