MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) — A recent State Department of Education survey found 400 vehicles per day ignore the bright red lights, on the big yellow school buses every day. Those are 400 opportunities for children to be injured.
What is more troubling, is the survey only covered one-third of the school districts in South Carolina.
“It’s a big problem”, said Lance Corporal Matt Southern of the South Carolina Highway Patrol.
Troopers make enforcement a priority, especially at the start of the new school year.
It’s also a problem that the News 2 I-Team started shining a bright light on nearly two years ago.
See previous I-Team stories: I-Team exposes ‘major problem’ of CCSD buses passed illegally
Berkeley County School District Director of Transportation Wes Fleming has been among those pressing hard for legislation that allows law enforcement to write tickets using video evidence of the violation. That law is on the books, but as previous I-Team stories explained, it requires police to be able to identify the driver in the video, but so far Fleming says the cameras are not great at getting that shot.
“Educating the public about the law, and making sure everybody knows when they are supposed to stop is really our focus,” said Fleming.
We recently rode along with SCHP troopers in Berkeley County, and police in Mount Pleasant. It didn’t take long for us to again witness drivers ignoring the stop arms, and flashing lights.
With several children waiting to cross Mountain Pine Road, a car going the opposite way of the bus drove right past extended stop arm and flashing red lights. That will cost her $1,062.50, plus court costs, plus six points against her license. A second offense could send that fine up to $10,000.
“What really could have happened is a child could have been injured or even killed by someone doing what they weren’t supposed to do,” said Southern.
On the road in Mount Pleasant, in a matter of minutes, at least three drivers passed one bus as it picked up a student on Highway 17. Pfc. Rob Bedard could only stop one, but that driver’s excuse was, “well I wasn’t the only one”.
“There’s just certain spots on the roadway that cars just aren’t paying attention,” said Bedard. “I brought you to a spot, and said we’ll get one here, and three minutes later.”
“And it’s not just the kids that are in danger,” added Bedard. “Cars are stopping when they’re not expecting, they’re not paying attention so they’re coming at 50-55 miles per hour, an all of a sudden a car stops in front of them, there’s a good chance for a collision.”