New Canaan Police are seeing a steep rise this year in the number of reported violations of motorists passing stopped school buses.
Police received 31 reports of school bus violations in October, compared to just four in the year-ago month, Chief Leon Krolikowski reported at the Nov. 16 meeting of the Police Commission.
Through the first 10 months of 2022, police received 101 school bus violation reports, compared to 39 in the same period last year, according to the chief.
“We have seen a huge increase in violations and in fact we are working with the [school district’s] transportation coordinator and the bus drivers to try to get them the information they need,” Krolikowski said during the Commission’s regular meeting, held at police headquarters.
“Because sometimes incidents are reported but they can’t be enforced, because they don’t meet the criteria of the statute,” he said.
Krolikowski added, “This is largely bus drivers reporting violations with the cameras on the buses. And sometimes the actions don’t meet the criteria of the statute to allow us to take enforcement action. We’ve all been behind buses where the lights go on, they go off, they go on, they go off, and don’t give you much warning, so we’re trying to educate everybody along the way and be better able to investigate these cases.”
Under state law, “when a driver approaches a school bus displaying its flashing red signal lights, he or she must immediately stop his or her vehicle at least 10 feet from the front or rear of the bus and remain stopped until the bus no longer displays its red signal lights, unless otherwise directed by a traffic officer (CGS § 14-279),” according to the Connecticut General Assembly Office of Legislative Research. “At intersections, drivers are generally prohibited from turning toward a school bus that is receiving or discharging passengers.”
Drivers face a fine of $450 for a first-time offense, under the law.
Commission Chair Paul Foley said during the meeting, “Hopefully they are not going around the bus. It might be just going the opposite direction.”
Krolikowski said the violations have been “a mix.”
“There have been some clear bad violations—passing in a no-passing zone, school bus sign out, lights on, et cetera—when they are borderline and don’t meet the criteria we don’t take enforcement action,” he said. “We’re trying to better educate everybody.”