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Posted on: May 11, 2018

School Bus Safety

All drivers know that it is against the law to drive around a school bus that has a stop arm extended.  The law is in place to protect children as they are boarding or exiting a school bus.  A violation of this law has always been, and still is, a criminal offense.  It is important to note that coming to a complete stop is required even when you are travelling in the opposite direction of the school bus.  The City of West Lake Hills takes the safety of all children riding the school buses extremely seriously.  Unfortunately, it is all too common to see cars go around or pass school buses when they are dropping off or picking up children for school.

In 2015, the City and Eanes ISD formed a partnership with Dallas County Public Schools to equip Eanes ISD school buses with cameras that would identify those that put children in danger by driving around a school bus that has the stop arm extended.  An ordinance was adopted by the City of West Lake Hills that made passing a school bus with the stop arm extended a civil offense—in addition to it already being a criminal offense.  The ordnance allowed the bus cameras to be used to record violators and require them to pay civil fines.

Unfortunately, Dallas County Public Schools is on the process of being dissolved or shut down—the result of a vote by the people of that District—so the stop arm enforcement program has ended.  You may have seen something in the news or heard discussions about this matter.  Because the program is no longer active, the City rescinded the ordinance regarding the civil violation and fines because it was no longer needed.

While that program has ended, it is important to note that passing a school bus with the stop arm extended is still a criminal offense.  The City’s commitment to enforce this important traffic law has not changed.  West Lake Hills Police Officers are still writing tickets for those who choose to put children in danger by ignoring this law.  The criminal fine and court costs for being found guilty of violating this law add up to $625, and offenders are not allowed to take a driving safety course in order to keep the violation off of their driving records as can be done with other types of traffic law violations.  This means that in addition to paying the $625, a violator will typically have to pay higher insurance premiums.

The City asks that all drivers pay close attention when school buses are in the area and to always stop when a bus has the stop arm extended.  We all want everyone’s children to arrive at school and return home safely.

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