Kendra Lyn, NBC 5 News
Troopers across North Texas are trading their squad cars for a school bus. They're riding along to make sure drivers stop when the buses do.
Texas Department of Public Safety troopers will board school buses this week to track drivers who don't stop correctly when school buses extend their stop arms.
As part of National School Bus Safety Week, troopers will be out in force with one trooper aboard a school bus using a radio to communicate to another in a squad car. These teams will track drivers that don't follow state law and stop when buses are flashing red lights and have their stop arm extended.
"We're making sure everyone stops for the school bus like they're supposed to, because sometimes people forget," Sgt. Lonny Haschel from the Texas Department of Public Safety explained to Harper Elementary School students Tuesday morning in Princeton.
"We'll stop them and ask them why they did that, because we don't want anyone to get run over. " Sgt. Haschel said.
It's a safety problem bus driver Colleen Laughton has seen way too often in her 4 years behind the wheel.
"I realize everybody's in a hurry, were all in a hurry, but it's better to get there safe," Laughton said.
"I could have a kid coming around the corner and jot out in front of the bus, and then the kid is gone, and that's tragic. It's not just the child, and the family, it's the person who hit the child is never going to get over it," said Laughton.
It not only could cost a life, it could cost your pocketbook up to $1,250, according to DPS officials. Troopers say they wrote 449 tickets last year to drivers who illegally passed a stopped school bus
"Troopers will be issuing citations. It's just a matter of moments, let the kids get on the bus, get off the bus. Wait until the bus rolls, and you're good to go back to the rest of your day," said Sgt. Haschel.
In Dallas County, violators could be caught on camera passing stopped buses. This year the county installed cameras to capture drivers that don't follow the state law.
So what do you need to do when a bus is stopped? If the school bus lights are flashing red and the stop arm is extended, both directions of traffic on roadways should stop. If the directions of traffic are separated by a turn lane, both directions should still come to a stop.
Sgt. Haschel rode along on bus route 10 Tuesday morning. Other drivers followed the rules of the road and no one got a ticket. That's what troopers say they want to see every day, even when they're not on the bus.