Operation Bus: make the roads safer for kids

PIMA COUNTY, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - The Pima County Sheriff's Department is in the midst of it's yearly program called "Operation Bus" that's designed to help remind drivers of the rules of the road in school zones, and also how to safely navigate the roads with buses constantly stopping to let kids off.

PCSD Deputy Ryan Roher explained many people are unaware of the rules and often drive into situations that could be dangerous for the children. Specifically, drivers passing by a school bus with it's stop arm down happens far more than people may think.

No matter what, cars behind the bus with it's stop arm down must stop, Deputy Roher said. But, there are other situations that may be a bit less straightforward. For example, if traffic is moving in both directions but there isn't a median, he's reminding drivers that all traffic must stop. However, if there is some kind of median, that's not the case.

"Then cars may proceed in that case," the deputy said.

KGUN9 rode along with Deputy Roher and his team during one day of "Operation Bus" to see the problem, first hand. Over the course of the hour and a half ride along, deputies pulled over and cited five drivers for violations.

Seeing five people blow by the downed stop arm is pretty standard, according to school bus driver Sulma Macias.

"Sometimes more," she said. "But most of the time, five to ten drivers."

Macias has 13 years of driving under her belt, and believes this is a serious problem in Pima County. She explained she genuinely cares about all of the children she drives, and gets very frustrated when she has to deal with oblivious and reckless drivers.

"When you see a car go by when you're stopped, it's like, oh my god, somebody can get hurt," she said.

Her message to all of the drivers on the road, even when they're in a hurry:

"Think that somebody's kid is on that bus," Macias said. "So you need to stop."

A citation for this traffic violation will cost around $250.

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