Tupelo police sees rise in drivers passing stopped school buses

Each violator is caught on three cameras on a school bus, and fines are hefty

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – No matter the time of day, the cameras on school buses never blink.

Less than a week ago, a camera on a Tupelo school bus caught a driver passing the stopped bus on Highway 6.

That same day another bus caught another driver disregarding the stopped bus, as students were being taken home.

And that morning, a different bus, a different driver, but the same violation.

And earlier in the year, the driver of a truck was caught on camera, passing by an open door of a school bus as it was dropping off students.

Unfortunately, police are seeing an increase in these types of cases.

“It is Mississippi state law that you must stop for a school bus,” said Tupelo Police Chief John Quaka

He said it’s obvious when a school bus is stopped. An arm and a stop sign are extended, and flashing lights are activated.

Quaka said each case is promptly investigated.

“The bus driver reports the issue to his supervisor, who reports it to TPD. We have an officer who works each and every one of these cases,” Quaka said.

The cases are presented to Municipal Court, with video of the violation, and an affidavit from the bus driver. Also, the license plate of each vehicle passing a stopped bus is on video.

Each bus has three cameras.

The chief also said Mississippi law holds the registered owner of the vehicle liable for the violation.

“For most traffic violations in Mississippi, you must be able to identify the driver of the vehicle. That’s not the case with this statute. The registered owner of the vehicle is presumed to be the driver and we can prosecute the registered owner,” Quaka said.

The fine is nearly $500, and it also goes on your driving record. So far, Quaka said there have been 30 cases prosecuted and 30 convictions.

“Drivers need to understand they are driving a 6,000-pound weapon that used the wrong way can really hurt somebody. Just know, if you pass a stopped school bus, you will get prosecuted,” he said.

Quaka encouraged all drivers to put their phones down, avoid other distractions, slow down, and obey all traffic laws.

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