Stopping for school buses

Hayden district enlists state patrol's help

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— Motorists in a hurry to pass stopped school buses on the highway should reconsider such a hasty decision.

Someone might be watching them.

With so many drivers disregarding school buses stopped on U.S. 40 to board or drop off children, the Hayden School District sought the assistance of the Colorado State Patrol.

By law, motorists in either direction must stop when a school bus stops to drop off or pick up students on a school route.

Now, state troopers are helping the district cut down on the number of motorists who disobey the stop signs that swing from the side of a stopped bus.

Troopers work in pairs to catch motorists in the act.

One trooper rides the school bus and reports violations to a second trooper in a patrol car.

"We get on the bus, we see the violation, we stop them," Sgt. Duane Bradley said.

School bus drivers by law must report when motorists ignore their bus and go around them at a school bus stop.

Reports dwindled as drivers grew discouraged about the rise in violations, Bradley added.

Now drivers have more assurance those motorists will face penalties, he said.

Motorists do not stop because they either are unaware of the law or are impatient with waiting for children to get on or off the bus, said Carl Ray, transportation director for the Hayden School District.

"Some people will just blow by the stop sign," Ray said.

A stopped bus may only heighten motorists' frustration with traffic in the morning or mid-afternoon, he added.

"People are in a hurry," he said.

But impatience can lead to serious danger, Ray said, when children are involved.

Motorists, in their haste to get around the bus, may not see the young pedestrians as they cross the highway to get on or off the bus, he said.

State troopers randomly select school buses to ride, Bradley said.

The State Patrol and the Hayden School District wanted to alert would-be violators about the consequences of ignoring the law.

"There's no doubt that the people know that you can't pass a school bus when it's stopped," Bradley said.

Troopers began boarding buses about a month ago, Ray said.

Problems with passing motorists are not as high on county roads and streets in Hayden, he said, but the same measures could possibly be taken with county or town police.

Some motorists may need to be caught in the act before they think twice about passing stopped school buses on the highway, Bradley said.

"It's just a matter of education."

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