CHP, EPD Conduct Enhanced Enforcement Operation Focused on School Bus Pedestrian Safety

This is a press release from the California Highway Patrol:

A photograph of a school bus unloading and loading students on a street in Maine. By Brian SnelsonFlickr: School bus, CC BY 2.0, Link

Arcata, CA – As part of its ongoing efforts to improve pedestrian safety, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) Humboldt Area, and Eureka Police Department, conducted a joint school bus pedestrian safety enforcement operation focusing on motorists who fail to stop for a school bus with its flashing red lights activated and stop arm extended (if equipped).  The enforcement operation took place during National School Bus Safety Week, October 22 – 26, 2018, along Humboldt County and Eureka City Schools’ bus routes.

In October 2016, the California Association of School Transportation Officials reached out to the Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol for assistance concerning school bus pedestrian safety.  The school bus officials provided the results of the annual California Department of Education School Bus Illegal Passing Driver Survey.  The one-day survey from 137 school districts and nine school bus contractors, revealed that throughout the state, over 26,000 motorists failed to stop for a school bus that was stopped to load or unload pupils.  As a staunch leader in traffic safety, the CHP answered the call by initiating school bus pedestrian safety enforcement operations.

During the enforcement operations, CHP and Eureka Police Officers conducted surveillance on various bus routes and in various locations, actively watching for motorists who fail to stop for a school bus with its flashing red lights activated and stop arm extended (if equipped).  Marked and unmarked units were used by both agencies to maximize the effectiveness of the operation.

On Wednesday, October 24, CHP Officers spent the morning at Morris Elementary in Mckinleyville, providing educational materials to both parents and students.  This project was designed to educate and remind motorists, parents, and students of the importance of school bus pedestrian safety.

The CHP reminds all drivers, when a school bus flashes red lights (located at the top front and back of the bus), you must stop from either direction until the children are safely across the street and the lights stop flashing.  The law requires you remain stopped as long as the red lights are flashing.  If you fail to stop, you may be fined up to $1,000, and your driving privilege could be suspended for one year.  Yellow flashing lights on a school bus warn a driver to slow down and prepare to stop.  If the school bus is on the other side of a divided or multi-lane highway (two or more lanes in each direction), you do not need to stop.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  The California Highway Patrol would like to thank Captain Brian Stephens and the Eureka Police Department for their assistance in this week long program, maximizing the education and enforcement provided to our community.



  • California has the most effective laws and regulations for school bus safety. The procedures for the loading and unloading of pupils are the most stringent in the entire US. In light of the recent tragedies at school bus stop in 2 other states resulting in the deaths of 4 children, this enhanced enforcement operation and the resulting media coverage is just awesome.

  • I just wish that the buses were more clear about what they are doing on country roads. You’d think that all the lights and signs would be good. But what drivers are supposed to do is not always so clear. On the road I drive most, sometimes the bus stops with no flashing lights, no one gets off and then it starts up again. Then sometimes some lights are flashing quite awhile before the stop sign, with more lights, pops out and a child exits the bus. Sometimes I think that, while some lights are flashing, the driver is waiting til traffic goes by to put out the sign and let kids off. There is rarely room on this road to pull off the road.

    I’ve given up trying to read the different lights. If a bus is stopped, even if it appears empty, I stop. Flashing lights or not.

  • I have always been confused about divided highways, for example rte 255 between Sunny Brae and Arcata. It feels wrong to keep going on the opposite side, but if I stop, honking happens. I guess, according to this article, stopping is not necessary?? It is confusing, and safety is the most important thing, but being rear ended is also not fun.

    • I know that yellow flashing lights are like a yellow traffic signal. You prepare go stop. But being ready to stop does not mean you will be when that stupid little sign comes out. When children are involved and you can’t see whether they are ready or not, it’s hard to know exactly what’s best. So many flashing lights are distracting.

      The law on a divided road with four lanes is clearer. You don’t stop but then on a four lane road, the other lane’s traffic might not chose to stop anyway. The sincere desire NOT to hit children makes it hard to just go by though.

  • Why is stopping for school buses with flashing lights so hard? If yellow lights are flashing, slow down and prepare to stop in case the red lights come on, or a child darts into the road. When the red lights are on, stop and wait until they go off.

  • I watched several cars and a UPS delivery vehicle pass a bus with lights flashing and stop sign extended a few days ago. I was surprised. A UPS driver should have safety training on top of knowing basic rules of the road before being allowed to drive a truck. The others should know better as well. More enforcement and reminders are good.

    • UPS crew has to be quick or else us consumers complain that our packages are late. It’s our fault for that behavior.

      As for the other people, they are just impatient morons that need to go back to drivers ed. That should be required with every ticket.

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