‘It’s ungodly’: Madison County drivers illegally passed school buses and got away with it, officials say

Madison County drivers illegally passed school buses and got away with it, officials say

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - Starting Wednesday, 220 school buses will carry Madison County’s most precious asset to and from school for another year.

The danger of the road starts as soon as the bus stops.

Each Alabama school district conducts a one-day survey where bus drivers tally the number of vehicles illegally passing their bus.

On April 3, 2019, Madison County bus drivers tallied 64 illegal passes.

Here’s a quick breakdown of that number:

  • 29 of the illegal passes were in the morning, 35 were in the evening
  • 55 of the illegal passes came from the opposite direction, while 9 were in the same direction (from behind)
  • All 64 were on the driver’s side
  • 47 of the passes were by car, 16 were by a light truck or van, and 1 by a heavy truck
  • 60 of the illegal passes were on two lane roads

Madison County Schools transportation supervisor Eddie McCord said the number of illegal passing tallied in April “ungodly" and is leaving children at risk.

“People are not paying attention. If you miss a big yellow school bus, then we’re preoccupied when we’re driving a vehicle," McCord said.

Madison County Schools buses are not equipped with outside cameras to film illegal passes.

Drivers may submit a complaint to the sheriff’s office, but McCord said memorizing a license plate can be a challenge.

As a result, he said often times perpetrators will get away.

Sheriff’s office spokesman Lt. Donny Shaw said the agency is aware of the issue, and works with the district and residents to stake out trouble areas.

He cited the Hazel Green area as a place where deputies have been active in pulling over cars who go around buses.

“Get off your cell phones, don’t be distracted by other things in your cars, and when you see these buses stop and see you see things school zones, that you do the appropriate actions around them,” he said.

It’s unclear how many drivers on April 3 were cited for illegally passing a bus.

McCord said the district is currently in talks with a company about the installation of outside cameras, the legal logistics have not yet been ironed out.

Morgan County school buses are equipped with outside cameras.

Its’ transportation supervisor Hank Summerford and the spokesman for the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office Mike Swafford said the videos do equip the district with the license plate numbers needed to pursue legal action against perpetrators.

Swafford said the process requires the bus drivers to share the video and fill out the necessary paperwork with the sheriff’s office and the Morgan County clerk’s office.

The citation is then mailed to the perpetrators, who are then given the opportunity to challenge in court.

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