In every state, including Connecticut, it is illegal for motorists to pass a school bus while it is stopped with its red lights flashing. Bus drivers and law enforcement are exasperated at the sheer number of drivers who violate this law on a daily basis.
Are drivers not paying attention? Do they not know the rule? Are they willfully breaking the law? It’s probably a combination of distracted drivers, ignorant citizens and intentional scofflaws. And it needs to change before someone’s child is badly injured or killed.
Connecticut law is quite clear about flashing lights on buses.
The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles driver’s manual states:
- You must stop for a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing, whether it is on your side of the road, the opposite side of the road, or at an intersection you are approaching.
- You are not required to stop if the bus is traveling towards you and a median or other physical barrier separates the roadway.
- After the school bus red lights have stopped flashing, watch for children along the side of the road and do not proceed until they have completely left the roadway and it is safe to proceed.
On most Connecticut school buses, four yellow flashing lights warn that the bus is about to pick up or drop off students. Then four red flashing lights signal that the bus has stopped. Passing a stopped bus with its red flashers on is punishable by a $465 fine. Some buses are equipped with cameras that capture the license plate of the offender. Bus drivers then forward the plate number and vehicle description to local police.
Illegal passing is still a problem.
Each year the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Service asks school bus drivers to pick a day to count illegal passing violations. This year, 108,000 drivers in 29 different states witnessed 74,000 instances of drivers passing stopped buses in one day!
The 35 Connectuct bus drivers who participated observed 59 violations on the chosen day. In other words, the 500,000 Connecticut children who ride buses to and from school are endangered at least once a day by motorists who drive right past a stopped bus with red lights flashing.
According to the NASDPT, about 60 percent of violators are approaching from the other direction. Perhaps they think it’s OK in the opposite lane? But 40 percent of violators approached the bus from behind. A school bus is hard to miss and they almost surely saw the red flashers. Which means they knowingly passed the bus anyway.
Prevent the worst case scenario.
Please stop every time for a school bus. Please report drivers who illegally pass a bus (license plate, make, model, location). If it’s a commercial vehicle, notify the employer.
If your child is injured in a school bus accident, through the actions of another motorist or through the negligence of a bus driver, you can turn to the experienced and caring personal injury attorneys of Kennedy, Johnson, Schwab & Roberge, L.L.C. Call our New Haven firm at 888-522-7144 for a free consultation.
Source: National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation