Survey: Ala. drivers illegally passed a school bus 1,173 times i - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Survey: Ala. drivers illegally passed a school bus 1,173 times in one day

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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

Getting on and off the school bus can be quite dangerous for students because drivers are passing stopped school buses. Some are in a hurry and others are distracted.

"They don't need to be paying attention to other things, texting, messing with the radio or taking their eyes off the road because at anytime that bus may be stopped and if you run that stop sign then you could hit a child," said.

Della Baker, Assistant Director of Transportation for Jefferson County, worries the problem could get worse. It only takes seconds to maneuver around a stopped school bus. The wrong move could end with a child hurt or dead.

"There's nothing to be in too much of a hurry for to take the chance of hitting a child," said.

School systems across the state just wrapped up an Illegal passing survey in April. Since 2001, The Alabama Department of Education has conducted this campaign to increase awareness.

For just one day bus drivers were asked to log each illegal pass around their stopped bus. Across the state, drivers reported a total of 1,173 illegal passes.

- Shelby County bus drivers reported 115.

- Jefferson County bus drivers reported 91 illegal passes.

- Tuscaloosa County bus drivers reported 72.

According to state law, the registered owner of the vehicle will punished with a fine starting at $150 for the first conviction. With more violations that fine will increase and the driver could even have driving privileges suspended.

Baker says the key is education and teaching the drivers and the kids to be safe.

"Educate these kids to know that they need to be sure that just because the stop sign comes out doesn't mean people stop...that they need to stop and look themselves also," she said. "I don't want to get that call that someone has hit one of our students... to me that an avoidable accident."

If you would like to check out the number of illegal passes in your area you can look at the entire survey by clicking here.

The Alabama State Department of Education offers these safety tips:

- Be aware it is illegal in every state to pass a school bus stopped to load/unload students.

- Know and understand laws governing motorist's driving behavior near a school bus.

- Learn the "flashing signal light system" that school bus drivers use to alert motorists if they are going to stop to load/unload students.

- Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children.

- Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.

- Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped, and that children are getting on or off. Motorists MUST stop their cars.

- Begin moving only when the red flashing lights are turned off, the stop arm is withdrawn and the bus begins to move.

- Watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be thinking about getting there safely.

- Slow Down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood. Watch for children playing and gathering near bus stops.

- Be Alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.

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