This week, Oct. 18-22 is National School Bus Safety Week, and Danny Hicks, Socorro Consolidated School District’s Director of Transportation, reminds motorists they risk children’s lives when they fail to stop for the school bus as it loads and unloads its passengers.
“It happens more than you realize,” Hicks said.
The district runs school buses, not only within the city limits but also as far south as the Santa Fe Diner and north to San Acacia.
“On a daily basis, with our 14 drivers and 14 routes, we cover about 736 miles a day,” he said. “The average is 20 stops in the morning and 20 in the afternoon per route.”
Socorro’s police chief says that there has been an uptick in citations for motorists ignoring the state law against passing a school bus while it is stopped for loading or unloading children.
“We’ve had people driving around the school bus stops,” Chief of Police Mike Winders said. “Some people are more blatant than others, but now we are catching every single one of those who choose to go around the school bus.”
“The school buses are now equipped with high-quality cameras, both in front and in back,” he said. “We are getting excellent images of license plates, tracking people down, and citing them for passing a school bus.”
Winders said he was impressed by the sharp, clear images from the camera’s video.
“It’s stunning, the video on those buses,” he said. “They’re all cited into court. And that’s an ugly citation, you know, passing a school bus.”
Winders said stills of vehicles in defiance of the law are forwarded to the police department. The fine for not stopping for a school bus, coming or going, is $100.
Hicks has been with the school district for 22 years and has been Transportation Director for the last four.
“Make sure to stop at a safe distance away from the school bus when the stop arm is out and the flashing red lights are on,” he said. “That’s on both sides of the road.”