“Last week I was following my son’s bus home [and] the bus stopped on Valle Vista Road near Vista Camino,” said Miranda Niederle of Lakeside. “[Then the driver] turned on the [bus’s stop] lights and three cars on the other side did not stop. I was waving my arms to signal them that they just did something wrong, and they just kept going.”
Niederle is a 32-year-old accountant from Lakeside. She is bothered by the number of drivers that do not stop when a school bus has flashing red lights and its semaphore stop-sign is popped out.
“That same day at the intersection of Posthill Road and Bridle Path Lane, a bus stopped in front of me again,” she said. “[Then] two cars proceeded past [me] without stopping on the opposite side of the road.”
Debbie is also a Lakeside resident and has been a school-bus driver for 22 years. “I’ve seen it all,” she said. “Like the car rear-ending the car that is stopped [and] the car flying past the police officer that is stopped for [my bus’s] red flashing lights.” She blames the law-breaking that she witnesses, “especially in residential areas,” on people being inconsiderate or ignorant of the law.
Sharon is another Lakeside resident who was a school-bus driver for three years. Lately, she’s been witnessing vehicles zoom by stopped school buses with flashing lights at the Julian Avenue and Los Coches Road areas — which reminded her of the scariest moment she had while driving a school bus:
“I stopped my bus, [put my] stop sign out, and [activated the] flashing lights,” she said. “I exited and went to the front of the bus to make sure there was no traffic passing my bus [and then] one of the male students said, ‘I can walk across the street without your help,’ and bolted out in front of me. Just as he did [that] a car came barreling down past us. I grabbed the back of the student’s shirt and pulled him back to me. This, fortunately, scared the student to the point of shaking like crazy and also scared the other students."
She said that there have been suggestions to help minimize the rule breakers, like “having more law enforcement available, but that is not the job of our police officers nor are there enough [police officers] to follow the buses around.”
Sharon suggested cameras mounted on bus dashboards; when the stop lights are activated, so is the camera. “This would track any cars passing when they shouldn’t be,” she said.
California law states: "The driver of any vehicle, upon meeting or overtaking, from either direction, any schoolbus equipped with signs as required in this code, that is stopped for the purpose of loading or unloading any schoolchildren and displays a flashing red light signal and stop signal arm...visible from front or rear, shall bring the vehicle to a stop immediately before passing the schoolbus and shall not proceed past the schoolbus until the flashing red light signal and stop signal arm...cease operation."
If a driver is caught passing a stopped bus with the stop lights activated, and then convicted, they can be fined between $150 and $250 for the first offense; $500–$1000 for the second offense; and loss of the right to drive for a year on the third offense.