OGDEN -- The Weber County Sheriff's Office will not tolerate anyone who drives around a stopped school bus this year.
As classes resume today for Weber School District, the sheriff's office will strictly enforce the no-passing law, said Chief Deputy Klint Anderson. According to state law, vehicles traveling either way on a street must come to a complete stop in front of or behind a bus when it's stopped and flashing red lights. The lights indicate that children are getting on or off the bus.
An average of 13,000 children in the district take the bus each day, according to the district's transportation department.
"And a lot of people don't seem to be paying attention when the buses stop," Anderson said.
The office had received numerous complaints from bus drivers about some near-misses between commuters and children when the former try to pass a stopped bus, he said.
Sue Morgan, transportation supervisor for the district, knows all about it. On May 19, all of the district's drivers participated in a national survey to tally how often the illegal passes happen. The drivers reported 28 such incidents that day.
That the next illegal pass may result in an injured child "is what our drivers live in fear of every day," she said.
The first time a deputy catches a driver breaking the law, he or she will be fined $100 when convicted. The second conviction will be a $200 fine, and it jumps up to $500 on the third strike.
Children are instructed to cross in front of a bus when they want to cross the street to get to their home. That way the driver can direct and keep an eye on them.
Anderson warns that this means drivers behind the bus don't always see the children right away. They may wonder why they cannot just pass the bus, but in a few seconds children may suddenly pop out in front of them, he said.
If the bus is flashing amber lights, indicating that it will soon come to a stop, state law does allow for drivers to pass the bus.