In just the two and a half weeks since school resumed, the Natrona County School District has seen 70 incidents of drivers illegally passing school buses.

The incidents involved another vehicle passing a school bus when the stop sign was out, or when the red lights were flashing.

District spokeswoman Tanya Southerland emphasized Wednesday that the district will continue helping law enforcement agencies identify drivers who unsafely pass any school bus.

"In the event of a motorist illegally passing a school bus the Natrona County School District will work together with law enforcement to provide video or photos of the incident, if available, as captured by the video recording systems located on the exterior of the bus," Southerland explained.

A new Wyoming law, in effect since July 1, allowed the registered owner of a vehicle to be fined up to $195 if their vehicle is caught on camera passing a stopped school bus and the driver cannot be identified.

In addition, exceeding the speed limit while in a school zone could result in a fine of up to $360.

"Please avoid distracted driving, be aware of designated 20 mph school speed zones, and pay careful attention when driving near schools, crosswalks, and school buses," Southerland continued.

An Arapaho resident died last week after crashing into the rear of a school bus south of Riverton, injuring eight students and the bus driver.

"Whether you are approaching the bus from the front or from behind, if the red flashing lights are on and/or the stop sign is out, you must stop," she said. "It's the law."

Southerland also offered bus safety tips for drivers as well as parents and students.

Drivers:

  • If red lights are flashing, no passing!
  • Be alert and slow down when driving in school zones
  • Watch for children playing, walking or standing near bus stops
  • Yellow lights mean SLOW DOWN, BE AWARE -- the bus is preparing to stop and load or unload children
  • Red flashing lights and extended stop arms mean you must STOP your car and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the stop sign is withdrawn, and the bus starts moving before you can drive again.

Parents/Students:

  • Arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus
  • When the bus arrives, wait for it to come to a complete stop and for the driver to say it's okay to load
  • Never walk behind a school bus
  • If you drop something by the bus, tell the driver right away. Do not try and pick it up.