POSTED: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - 5:31pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 8:15am
MISSION, TX (KVEO NEWS CENTER 23) — The Mission Police Department is teaming up with the school district to remind drivers of the law when it comes to school bus safety.
A decoy bus with a police officer riding inside drove around the city of Mission testing drivers on their awareness of school buses and what to do when the red lights start flashing. The bus would stop, turn on the flashing lights, and police pulled over drivers who disregarded the stop sign and drove past the bus.
“We did a traffic stop on most of these people and the first thing they said to us was ‘I never saw the bus, and I never saw the red lights,' so that tells us that they’re not paying attention,” said Cpl. Manuel Casas of the Mission P.D.
Police say a majority of offenders are drivers traveling in the opposite direction of the school bus, and many are often unaware that this case is also against the law.
“If you overtake a school bus when those red lights are on, the fine is $402," Casas said. "It’s a hefty fine for something that you could just easily wait a few seconds and let the school bus go on it’s way. You violate the law, you're gonna get cited.”
Drivers pulled over during this test were only given a warning, but once school actually starts Mission P.D. will take a zero tolerance policy for those who disregard a bus with its red lights. A $400 fine may seem like a lot, but when it comes to keeping children safe, no price is too high to remind drivers to pay attention.
“Well the main focus is actually to remind the community out there, actually throughout the Valley, of some of the traffic laws surrounding school buses when they’re dropping off and picking up children and what they need to be keeping in mind so they keep our children safe," said Craig Verley, director of public relations.
Casas added that drivers need to pay attention in case the children are not aware of what's going on.
“They may cross when they’re not supposed to, and you don’t wanna hit one of those children. There’s a lot of factors that are going to play, but that’s why we’re out there and we wanna make sure to keep our children safe.”
Drivers are also reminded to obey the speed limit in school zones, which is set at 20 mph. Cell phone use and texting is also prohibited in school zones, and police will issue citations for any of these violations.