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PUBLISHER'S CORNER BEWARE OF DRIVERS TONY CORPIN, PUBLISHER I


can remember as a 16-year-old going into the DMV for the written portion of my driving test. I was feeling pretty good afterward until, that is, I received my scores. I missed the cut off by one question. Rats, I guess I wasn’t quite ready. I had to go back and hit the books, and the hard work paid off as I passed with fly-


ing colors the next time around. It’s been quite a few years since that experience, and I could probably use a refresher on the new laws and regulations out there. How about you? According to a recent survey conducted by Carinsurance.com of 500 licensed drivers


ages 18 and up, there remains much confusion on laws, especially those pertaining to school buses and pedestrians. More than two-thirds of respondents missed this question: “You are approaching a school bus that has stopped on the other side of a divided highway.” Te possible answers: (1) Stop and wait for it to load or unload children; (2) Stop, check for children, then proceed; (3) Stop and wait until the flashing red lights go off; or (4) Watch for children and be ready to stop. If you answered No. 4, you are correct. Additionally, 58 percent missed a question on when to yield right of way to pedestrians. In a marked crosswalk only? What about in any crosswalk or intersection? Crossing any street? Te correct answer, by the way, is the third choice. Regardless of how common sense these questions might — or might not — be, U.S.


failure rates are considered high based on data NHTSA collected from 13 states. Missouri recorded a 61 percent failure rate on the test’s written portion. Mississippi was a close sec- ond at 60 percent and Florida made the top three with 58 percent. Meanwhile, states nationwide prepared to perform the latest one-day counts of motorists


who illegally pass school buses. Texas, in fact, held its bus driver survey on April 10 and Kansas held its own on April 24. As this magazine edition was making its way to your door- step, Washington State prepared for its survey, which is mandated by state law, on May 1. NASDPTS is requesting that each state choose a single day for school bus operators (public and contracted) to observe and report any instances of motorists illegally passing their school buses. Tis data will hopefully shed more light on ongoing dilemma of illegal passing. In 2012, school bus drivers in 28 states recorded a one-day snapshot on the number of times motorists passed their school buses illegally while the buses were stopped and displaying their flashing red lights and stop arms. Close to 112,000 bus drivers reported 37,756 stop- arm passing incidents. Often, several cars were involved in each incident. I’m not surprised by these numbers, considering the epidemic of vehicles passing school


buses illegally. Most motorists simply don’t understand the rules of the road when it comes to school buses. Over the past year, the demand for external cameras on school buses in order to catch


illegal passers has trended upward. In a recent survey of 1,500 School Transportation News subscribers, nearly 9 percent of the 131 respondents said they are planning to purchase stop- arm video camera systems within the next 12 months. Still, this data could indicate that the use of exterior cameras will continue to increase as school districts and local police target these motorists. Meanwhile, more states are passing heftier fines for convictions. Rep. Pat Fallon of Texas


introduced House Bill 1174 this year that would increase the minimum fine amount to $500 and the maximum to $1,250. Additionally, subsequent convictions within five years of the first would increase the minimum to $1,000 and the maximum to $2,000. I’d expect we’ll continue to see increasing fines from other states. As an industry we need to continue educating motorists on the rules of the road, espe-


cially when encountering school buses. Tis is one of the most important keys to improving school bus safety. 


66 School Transportation News May 2013


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