Illegal Passing: Real–Life Successes

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Will County (Illinois) Operation S.A.V.E.
(Stop Arm Violation Enforcement)


This is one of NHTSA's four demonstration projects. In 1995 the Illinois State Police District 5 Safety Education Officer was speaking at a school bus driver regional safety meeting when he was bombarded with complaints about the less than enthusiastic response to their stop–arm violation reports. School bus drivers were filing complaints with the State's Attorney's Office who investigated and prosecuted the cases. However, these complaints were not handled effectively due to the volume of other cases perceived as more important. When cases were prosecuted, they were often plea bargained, resulting in reduced charges. 

Illinois has a severe penalty for Illegal Passing of a School Bus, with a $150 fine and a three–month driver's license suspension for the first conviction with no allowance for the issuance of court supervision. A conviction is to be reported to the Secretary of State and is recorded on the driver's record. The severity of this penalty motivates violators to hire attorneys to argue a reduction of the charges to Improper Lane Usage. This charge carries only a $75 fine and the possibility of court supervision so there is no record of the violation on the driver's record.

The State Police Safety Education Officer developed a stop–arm violation form for the bus drivers to use. He soon became the clearinghouse for a majority of the stop–arm violation complaints within his district and was quickly overwhelmed. The purpose of the NHTSA grant was to expand the efforts of State Police, local police agencies, and the school bus drivers to arrest and secure effective prosecution and subsequent convictions for stop–arm violators in two towns in Will County, one urban and one rural. 

The partners in this effort were:

    • Illinois State Police

    • Two local police agencies

    • Local school districts

    • Local school transportation companies

    • Local prosecutor's office


Best Practices Guide: Reducing the Illegal Passing of School Buses