Illegal Passing: Real–Life Successes

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Teton County (Wyoming) School District 1


Teton County is the home of Jackson Hole, a year–round attraction for tourists. Fifteen thousand people, 2,000 of them students, make their permanent home in the 6,400 square miles of Teton County. Most of the 18 bus routes are paved, two to five lane roads with speeds of 25 to 65 m.p.h. Illegal passing of stopped school buses is one of the main complaints of the school bus drivers.

When a new Transportation Supervisor started in 1982, he decided to see what could be done to reduce stop–arm violations. At that time, when a school bus driver would send a violation report to law enforcement, he or she rarely got a response. The law enforcement agencies in the county seemed to feel that illegal passing wasn't really a problem because no one had been hurt or killed. It was clear that a new approach was needed.

The strategy chosen in the 1980's is still used today:

1. Training is conducted with school bus drivers to make sure that they are stopping properly and that they are being consistent in determining what is a violation. For example, in Wyoming a motorist has to completely overtake the school bus for it to be considered a violation.

2. All violations, whether the motorist can be identified or not, are written up and are entered into a database maintained by the school district.

3. All the people involved help develop and improve the process used. Initially, school transportation, law enforcement, and the prosecutor worked together to develop the reporting form. They still debrief often after court appearances to talk about new things to try or how to better record the information gathered. Sometimes the judge joins them.

4. Violations are reported in this manner: 

   • If the driver can get at least a license plate number, he or she calls in the violation from the bus to the school bus garage. It is even better if the driver can get a description of the vehicle or the motorist.

   • The staff at the garage then calls the report in to the sheriff. While the driver finishes the route, law enforcement tries to get a registration number for the vehicle.

Best Practices Guide: Reducing the Illegal Passing of School Buses