Illegal Passing: Real–Life Successes

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Tennessee Department of Safety

Description/Activities

Efforts to address the problem of stop-arm violations in Tennessee are through the Department of Safety’s Tennessee Highway Patrol and Pupil Transportation Divisions. The Highway Patrol focuses on county areas, outside of city limits. The Highway Patrol divides the state into eight districts.

The Highway Patrol has both ongoing and periodic activities to encourage stop-arm compliance.

Ongoing Activities

The Department of Safety’s Pupil Transportation Division provides reporting forms to school systems. School bus drivers complete the forms when they see a violation and the school system sends these forms to the Department of Safety. The Department of Safety then sends a letter to the motorist saying what was reported and what the law is.

Periodic Activities

In August before school starts, the Department of Safety conducts a campaign to call attention to the problem. The safety officer of the Highway Patrol in each district spearheads the efforts. The safety officer works with local media, distributes media advisories/releases, and works with schools to get officers on school buses. 

Throughout the year, the safety officer talks to school students of all ages and to civic groups such as the Rotary and Kiwanis about school bus safety, including illegal passing.

Noteworthy Aspect

In Tennessee, a school bus driver has the option of filing a warrant for a person’s arrest if the driver can identify the motorist. The case is then pursued through the local judicial system. In reality, this doesn’t happen very often.

Lesson Learned/Success

Sending the letter to the motorist based on the school bus driver’s letter is a bluff game. Word the letter as strongly as possible while staying within the law.

 

Best Practices Guide: Reducing the Illegal Passing of School Buses