Visalia Unified School District and BusPatrol today shared the results of its stop-arm camera pilot program for the first half of the 2022/23 school year, showing just how often motorists blow past school buses and endanger students.
From September to February, six school buses equipped with stop-arm cameras recorded a total of 1,595 vehicles illegally passing stopped school buses that were stopped to pick up or drop off children. This is equal to 2.3 violations per bus per day.
Speaking about the results, Luis Espinoza Magaña, Transportation Director at VUSD, said: “Failing to stop for a school bus is not just a violation of the law, it shows a complete disregard for the lives and safety of students. We urge all drivers to be extra cautious around school buses and always slow down and prepare to stop for the yellow flashing lights. You never know when a child could be about to cross.”
The most dangerous week was the first week back to school, starting Tuesday, September 6th, with 103 violations recorded in just four days and a violation rate of 5.2 per bus per day.
According to the district, the bus stops with the highest number of violations were 300 block of Sol Ct S, 200 block of s Arkle St, 1000 block of E Mineral King Ave, 300 block of W Elkhorn Ave, and 400 block of N Lovers Ln.
Steve Randazzo, Executive Vice President at BusPatrol, said: “California has one of the highest rates of illegal passings that we’ve seen anywhere in the nation. It is completely unacceptable that each school bus sees more than 2.3 violations per day. This illegal motorist behavior endangers the lives and safety of children, and we urge Californians to come together and demand the state legislature to take action to protect students.”
California is one of several states that do not allow automated enforcement technology to help catch violators who pass a stopped school bus. The results of this pilot demonstrate just how widespread this illegal activity remains and how often it goes unreported. Without a fix to California state law, local communities and law enforcement will continue to be denied permission to use photo enforcement as evidence to cite motorists who break school bus safety laws and put children at risk.
The pilot program with VUSD is part of a larger state initiative with school districts, including Poway Unified School District and Sacramento Unified School District.
The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services estimates that school buses in California are illegally passed an average of five times per bus per day. This year, the NASDTPS illegal passing survey counted almost 10,000 stop-arm violations in one day.