Parent upset at speeding past school bus
Nov. 1, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
TEXAS TRANSPORTATION CODE
Drivers on a highway must stop before reaching a school bus when the bus has a visual signal while discharging a student.
The vehicle may not proceed until the school bus resumes motion, the operator is signaled by the bus driver to proceed or the visual signal is turned off.
An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $200 or more than $1,000.
If the person causes serious bodily injury to another, it is considered a Class A misdemeanor; or a state jail felony if the person has been previously convicted for passing a school bus. The court may order that the driver's license of a person convicted of a second or subsequent offense under this section be suspended for not longer than six months beginning on the date of conviction.
Tanya Asbury has been shooting video of cars passing by her children's school bus since August.
The diligent mother said she's caught several vehicles zoom past stopped buses along U.S. Highway 87 South in the Bloomington school district.
Asbury said she's afraid that a car moving 70 mph - the speed limit on the highway near her country home - might hit a stationary school bus.
And she hopes her recordings will scare motorists into slowing down - even though she has not shown any of the incriminating video to authorities.
However, if the Victoria County Sheriff's Office had reason to request any of the video, she said, she would hand it over.
"I'm not doing it to be mean," Asbury said. "I just want people to stop doing it."
Section 545.066 of the Texas Transportation Code states that "... passing a school bus once it has stopped is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $200 or more than $1,000."
In 2009, the Texas Department of Transportation counted 1,239 crashes that involved school buses, six of them fatal.
The bus pulled up to the Asbury's front lawn.
Colt and his 4-year-old brother Keaton quickly ran away from the highway.
"Run, baby, run," the mother yelled.
Blood rushed to the 8-year-old's face as he made it to his front porch.
"It makes me mad when they don't stop," Colt said.
Richard Williams, the area constable, said he's issued about 15 tickets during the past three weeks to drivers speeding past school buses that were dropping off the Asbury children.
"Fridays are the worst," the Precinct 1 constable said. "They know my truck now, and have gotten used to me being out here."
Drivers passing through the homes along U.S. 87 South are usually workers commuting between Victoria and Port Lavaca, Williams said.
"They should be stopping, no matter what the speed limit is," Williams said. "Once they're past the sign on the bus, that's when they're in violation."
There are not many solutions other than increased law enforcement in the area, the constable said.
"Speed limit reduction is not the answer," Williams said. "I know the sheriff's department is busy patrolling other areas, but they should be out here, too."
Warnings would give vehicles enough time to slow down, said TxDOT area engineer Randy Bena.
"But you can't do it in jumps greater than a 10-mile per hour increment," Bena said. "We can't post speed limits that say 70 miles per hour in one area and 20 miles per hour in the same one."
Bena said solving the speeding issue isn't something he can solve through TxDOT alone.
"It's a law enforcement issue" Bena said. "Traffic is supposed to stop."
Asbury said after she submitted her complaint to the Victoria County Sheriff's Office, deputies patrolled the area closely for about week and a half.
Victoria County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Terry Simons said, "The assertion that we were out there for a week and left is not accurate because we're out there all the time."
He said there is a system through which school bus drivers can report trouble they have on the road, but he said he rarely hears about vehicles violating the school bus transportation code.
"When bus drivers report to us an area where they've been having an increased amount of problems, we investigate the area," Simons said. "If someone passes a stopped school bus, they're going to get a citation."