SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)– For several weeks, 22News took our cameras out to school bus stops in Springfield. Just three days in, 22News spotted one car speeding up to make it around a stopped school bus. We also spotted another car starting to pass, eventually stopping directly underneath the bus’ stop sign.
The drivers we spotted with our cameras were on Wilbraham Road, where dozens of children get on and off school buses each school day.
“We’ve issued 30 violations so far this year for people passing a school bus. I think that number is way too high,” Officer Robert Kalin, of the Springfield Police Traffic Bureau, told 22News.
22News dug through Springfield police records and found the most common locations they ticketed drivers for passing school buses included Wilbraham Road, with an even higher number spotted on Sumner Avenue, and the most on State Street.
Other locations drivers were ticketed for passing a stopped school bus between January 1st and October 30th, included Worthington Street, Allen Street, Roosevelt Avenue, Page Boulevard, and Boston Road.
Officer Kalin said that residents often call-in licenses plate numbers when they see this happening, but often the plate number doesn’t match the car’s description, which means no fine can be given.
“The department uses unmarked cars. If we get a lot of complaints in a certain area, we’ll go out there with unmarked cars.”
Right now, it’s a $255 fine for a first offense, with a minimum of a $500 fine for the second time you’re caught.
State Representative Nicholas Boldyga (R-Southwick) is pushing to change the law, increasing that punishment. “I’ve heard about it a lot, and then about a year ago 22News did a great investigative report trying to get the numbers state-wide,” Boldyga said.
It was last school year when 22News discovered the RMV sent out warnings to more than 3,100 Massachusetts drivers who had been spotted violating this law in 2013.
22News stayed on this issue. We obtained new numbers from MassDOT, and found out in 2014, those violations dropped slightly to nearly 2,500.
Boldyga says he wants to see fines upped to $500 and to take your license for first time offenders. He also wants to double the fine and time you lose your license if you’re caught passing a stopped school bus a second time.
“The fines are not big enough, because people are clearly and apparently still breaking the law and could possibly kill a child by passing a school bus in the morning because they are a few minutes late for work,” Boldyga told 22News.
Boldyga plans to file a second piece of legislation on the issue this coming spring, in hopes of making these drivers accountable for putting your children in danger.
- I-Team: Drivers passing stopped school buses
- Related Coverage: Drivers ignoring school bus safety laws
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