HomeNewsMassachusetts 'Operation Yellow Blitz' Targets School Bus Illegal Passers

Massachusetts ‘Operation Yellow Blitz’ Targets School Bus Illegal Passers

Law enforcement officers issued 110 citations last month during a statewide sting that targeted motorists who illegally pass school buses that are stopped on the side of the road to load or unload students.

“We want to get the word out that drivers on both sides of the road need to stop when school buses pick up or drop off children,” said Rachel Kaprielian, the registrar of motor vehicles with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. “Those who would ignore a stopped school bus risk injuring a child. Without exception, all traffic approaching a school bus with red flashing lights must stop.”

Kaprielian said 160 cities and towns participated this year, up from 110 in 2009 and only 30 in 2007, two years after the program began. Still, she said Operation Yellow Blitz shows that, while many people are conscientious while driving near a school bus, there is still an alarming lack of awareness. During one surveillance sweep, Kaprielian said she personally witnessed five drivers pass a school bus on the opposite side of the road.

“All were pulled over by police and some said they did not realize what they had done,” she added. “Drivers have a responsibility to know when they are near a school bus and to stop when its flashing red lights are on.”

During a one-day national count earlier this year promoted by NASDPTS, more than 2,150 school bus drivers reported 1,343 illegal passing incidents, more than two-thirds of those occurring during the morning school commute and nearly always to the left side of the bus.

Massachusetts violators face a $250 citation for a first offense and a $1,000 fine and a six-month suspension of their license for a second offense within two years. Aside from the one-day count, school bus drivers regularly complete reports and submit them to the Registry of Motor Vehicles that note the license plate numbers of motorists who ignore stopped school buses with their red flashing lights engaged and stop arms extended.

RMV said it mailed 2,154 warning letters to motorists in 2010, and this year 1,625 letters had been sent as of last month. Repeat violators face the possibility of an administrative hearing that can result in a driver’s license suspension or revocation.

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