1st Gear Poster
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: New Castle, Colorado
Since I know all the cops here in our little town, I just picked up the phone to see what our Chief had to say. He said:
If the person who "ran the bus" was blatant/dangerous/late/etc enough when doing so, the driver will probably report him. The protocol for Colorado (and most specifically Garfield Co) is that the driver has been instructed to remain at a stop where the incident happened until they: write down the license # of offending vehicle, the make/model/color of vehicle, description of person driving, location and time of incident. They then proceed on their route and when returning to the bus barn, they fill out a form specifically for such incidents.
He said the report is then mailed to the town police dept. closest to where the incident happened. When they get these reports (happens more than you think, he said!) they send an officer to the registered owner's house. They ask who was driving on such day/time/etc. When they figure out who was driving (matching physical description of bus driver) they write that person a ticket.
That person is then REQUIRED to go to court. Since the infraction is taken very seriously by judges/town attorneys/etc. (uhh, it's a bus, kids getting on/off- lots of them very young and stupid about crossing streets, etc) they won't negotiate it down. If you wish to deny you commited the infraction, they will set a court date for you to take it to trial (either judge or jury trial - your choice).
During said trial, the bus driver will come in and testify against you. "That's him/her. She/he did not stop for the bus". Who do you think the judge/jury is gonna believe?
Here, busses have yellow/red lights that blink for quite a while in warning of preparing for a stop - they come on automatically when the driver reaches for the handle that pushes out the little stop sign on the side (and in some newer busses, the "arm" that goes out in front of the bus). It's automatic...and it's done quite a distance (and time) from when the bus actually comes to a complete stop. Once you see those lights, you are required to stop.
Bottom line? Bob could very well get a ticket. It will stand up in court. Courts take driving by stopping/stopped busses very seriously (as they should!). Bus drivers make very credible witnesses in the event of a trial.
One last note: I asked our Chief about an incident I had about a year ago with a stopping bus. I was driving toward the bus on a two-lane residental street in our neighborhood when, as I approached, I got to about where my front end was pretty close to the buss's front end. The lights came on and the stop sign was starting to move slowly out. I had no time to really react - even though I was only going about 20-25 mph. I did brake pretty hard but by then I was actually past the bus and just proceeded to drive on. (I was actually freaked out a bit - no, I never was contacted or given a citation!) I asked if the bus driver would typically report that kind of thing.... he said, no, usually not, as it wasn't a blantant disregard of the warning lights/signs or dangerous as the bus was just beginning to stop. Timing of the "pass" seems to be one of the key issues in these types of situations. Well, that, at the driver's perception of the event, I guess.
For future reference, you might tell your friend, Bob, to slow down when he is driving by/near a school bus. :-)