BOISE — As school buses hit the streets for another school year, drivers who zoom past the buses’ stop signs may get hit with a much higher fine than before.
Starting July 1, a new law took effect raising the fine to $200 for a first-time stop arm offense. Previously it was $100. The fine increases to $400 for a second offense, and $600 for a third offense, Boise Police Cpl. Kyle Wills said.
In Idaho, drivers are required to stop for any bus with its stop arm extended if the road is three lanes or fewer. If the road is four lanes or more, the traffic traveling in the same direction as the bus is required to stop, but not the traffic traveling in the opposite direction.
The law change came after a bill passed during the 2019 legislative session. The legislation designates some of the funds collected through fines toward funding cameras to affix to school bus stop arms to help identify offenders and enforce the law, according to a previous Idaho Press report.
In March, Mary Symms, substitute school bus driver for Cascade Student Transportation, which contracts with the West Ada School District, testified during a hearing before the House of Representatives that Idaho’s growing population and increase in distracted drivers will lead to more incidents that put children in harm’s way.
“Motorists do not obey the law,” she said. “The violators are not being identified, and the law is not being enforced.”
Stop-arm and school-zone violations tend to increase around the start of the school year, Wills said, so police are boosting patrols in school areas.
The Boise Police Department this year is using a grant from the Office of Highway Safety targeting school zone enforcement, Wills said. This will add even more officers focusing on school zones.
“With what we do see with an increase in the number of crashes and violations, we thought it was a perfect opportunity to partner with them and keep that increase from happening,” Wills said.
This grant will not only focus on bus stop violations, but failing to yield at crosswalks, school zone speeding and distracted driving.
Wills’ advice is to slow down and watch for children and college students who are walking or biking and put down any distractions.