It’s happening way too often and it’s against the law. We’re talking about drivers overtaking school buses when children are getting off. It’s a nationwide problem that’s plagued Hawaii’s communities as well.
The state has increased the penalties for this violation and the Department of Education raises awareness throughout the year. However, ultimately the change in this behavior lies with the driver and now another parent wants to alert others once again.
“The cars they don’t stop they just keep going,” said concerned parent Malia Sanchez.
Sanchez lives along Halawa Heights Road where her children catch the school bus. This is the family’s first year using the school bus and Sanchez is fed up with what she sees.
“Cars usually coming down the hill, when the lights are flashing and the arm is out, they still passing. And lately, they’ve been coming up from behind the bus and bypassing the bus, overtaking it,” she said.
Sanchez is now recording the violations so she can make a case to Honolulu Police.
“I literally have to stand in the middle of the crosswalk, so that they can cross safely,” said Sanchez.
The speed limit here is 30 mph but Sanchez says she sees drivers speeding all the time, which adds to the problem.
“I get mad. It makes me upset, that’s our kids,” said Sanchez.
When school buses pick up and drop off children, the law clearly states that drivers need to stop “…in the lane occupied by the school bus and all lanes adjacent to the lane occupied by the school bus, regardless of the direction of traffic in those lanes…” There is one exception.
“If there is a raised barrier between the bus and the other lane, then the cars on the other side of the road don’t have to stop,” said Steve Wong of Wong Way Driving Academy.
The fine for overtaking and passing a school bus with flashing stop signals is up to $500 and/or community service. Legislation that passed last year, doubled that fine to up to $1,000 on state highways.
“What we want is deterrence. We want people to stop this behavior and to understand just how dangerous it is,” said Representative Sean Quinlan, who introduced the bill.
According to a national survey from the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, that was introduced to us by a representative from Roberts Hawaii, last year a little over 500 Hawaii bus drivers observed about 700 illegal passing of school buses.
“Everybody is in a rush nowadays. Everybody is in a hurry. Everybody needs to get to places and that goes for everybody. Depending on how you react to that it could be a dangerous situation,” said Wong.
“It’s really up to each individual person to decide whether saving 30 seconds on their commute is worth endangering a child’s life,” said Rep. Quinlan.
For a link to the survey, click here.