JARRELL, Texas (KXAN) — A video posted by a school bus driver for the Jarrell Independent School District has gotten thousands of views on social media after she called out other drivers for failing to obey the law and stop for bus signals.
Ginger Martinez shared a video on Feb. 22 showing people driving past her school bus at a stop even though she had displayed the flashing stop signs. It now has more than 12,000 views on Facebook alone.
“I don’t know why, but the big flashing lights and the word ‘stop’ aren’t clear enough is what it seems like,” Martinez said. “They stop at stop signs, but for whatever reason, whenever it’s on the side of the bus like that, they choose not to.”
She told KXAN that she wanted more people to be aware of the law and highlight a frustrating problem she keeps seeing while on her bus routes.
“I am constantly trying to educate everybody on the danger of this,” Martinez said, “but I’m so terrified that it’s going to take a child being killed to finally get them to see it. The worst part of it is that, if that does happen, they still continue to do it.”
Texas state law requires drivers to stop in both directions when a bus is stopped and operating a visual signal — either red flashing lights or stop signs. Drivers can go again when the school bus resumes motion; the bus driver has signaled for people to proceed, or the visual sign is no longer activated.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, approaching drivers do not have to stop for a school bus that is operating a visual signal if the road is separated by a physical barrier or a median. However, if a highway is divided only by a left-turning lane, the roads are not considered separated, and drivers must stop for school buses.
Jarrell ISD has moved some bus stops and asked police to patrol trouble spots, which has helped. During the past year, records from the Jarrell Police Department show that officers have not written any citations to people for passing school buses.
However, Round Rock police have issued 22 citations since August 2018, and Cedar Park police have written 17 tickets for the same offense since January 2018 to the present.
Drivers who illegally pass school buses can face fines up to $1,250 for the first offense.
Jackie Ivicic, the transportation director at Jarrell ISD, said the community needs more education on the law and harsher punishments.
“I mean it’s our children,” Ivicic said. “It’s precious cargo that we’re carrying.”