CHP reminds drivers to stop when bus lights are flashing
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Motorists who speed around a stopped school bus may be surprised the next time they open their mail.
Bus drivers are recording license plate numbers and reporting offenders to the California Highway Patrol. The CHP will then mail a two-page warning letter, reminding the driver that cars must stop when a school bus is flashing its red lights and extending a stop sign. In some cases, the drivers will receive a ticket in the mail, which can cost an upwards of $500.
Bus drivers for Lake Tahoe Unified School District are reporting 90 to 120 violations per year to the CHP, with about 10 turning into tickets.
The state law is in place to protect students who are stepping off the bus and crossing the street. There have been no recent accidents involving children leaving a bus, said Officer Jeff Gartner, public information and community outreach officer for the CHP.
“But we want to make everyone aware of it so we can prevent those types of accidents,” Gartner said.
To comply, drivers must stop their car whenever the red lights on the front and back of the bus are flashing, whether or not children are crossing the street. Cars must remain stopped until the bus driver turns the lights off.
Officers are waiting in marked and unmarked cars near the bus stops to see if cars are stopping. The bus drivers are also in on the action, recording license numbers into digital recording devices and carrying digital cameras through the crosswalk to capture a photo offender. The buses are also equipped with video camera that give officers (and the judge) a clear view of a driver’s face, car and license number.
In one close call, a motorist whizzed past a bus driver who was escorting children across the street. The bus driver was carrying a hand-held stop sign.
“(The driver) definitely had time to stop,” Gartner said. “That’s probably the worst that I’ve heard of.”
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