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Drivers in Utah run school bus stop signs nearly 1,500 times in one day, survey shows

By Debbie Dujanovic | Posted - Feb. 2, 2017 at 11:24 p.m.


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WEST JORDAN — Herb Jensen has a collection of videos he's not happy about.

Jensen, the director of transportation for the Jordan School District, is determined to find a way to stop a growing problem across the state: drivers who ignore stop signs and flashing red lights on school buses.

"What is more precious than the life of a child," Jensen said.

He said can't understand why drivers are in such a hurry, as they speed pass stopped buses where children are loading and unloading.

"It's alarming," Jensen said. "It puts our kids in peril."

State law is simple and clear. With rare exception, drivers must stop for buses when red flashing lights are activated. The bus stop sign is another reminder that drivers are required to stop.

In Jensen's experience, many of the people who violate the law are parents.

"Most parents would do anything in the world to protect their children, but they seem to have a complete disregard for protecting everyone else's children," he said.

All of Jordan's School District's bus fleet is wired with surveillance cameras that have captured many instances of cars failing to stop.

To see how widespread the problem is, Jensen and his counterparts from school districts across Utah conducted a one-day survey on November 9, 2016. Bus drivers watched and documented how many drivers failed to stop when they should have.

In all, they tallied an astounding 1,468 violations in Utah in that one day. The data showed it's a statewide problem.

Some of the number of violations documented in school districts include:

  • Granite School District documented 535 violations
  • Alpine School District documented 438 violations
  • Davis School District documented 154 violations
  • Jordan School District documented 56 violations

Bus driver Shaun Dustin was happy to take part in the survey because he wants something to be done before a child is killed. He said it's not uncommon to see several cars pass his bus with kids loading or unloading.

"In my opinion, (it's) blatantly wrong and extremely dangerous," he said.

Dustin said he is always watching for drivers who try to beat his bus, and has often held children until all cars stop.

He's notices that when one car passes his stopped bus, other cars tend to follow.

But even with bus drivers as witnesses and video evidence, Jensen said it's been nearly impossible to get drivers cited based on what's caught on camera.

A Utah law designed to keep police departments from relying solely on photo radar units to ticket drivers is having unintended consequences because it requires an officer to be present to witness traffic violations.

KSL took the issue up with Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, who immediately filed new legislation.

"I was very surprised, especially at the number of people that aren't stopping," Ray said.

Ray will work with Jensen to draft legislation that, if passed, will allow police departments to ticket drivers based on what's captured on bus video cameras.

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Debbie Dujanovic

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