May 3, 2013 8:39 PM by April Hansen, KSBY News

Drivers who ignore school bus stoplights continue to be concern for Santa Maria neighborhood

A school bus pulls in to pick up children from the Quail Meadows community in Santa Maria. The bus driver turns on the red flashing lights alerting drivers to stop. One lane of traffic stops, while other cars drive by.

"They need to stop. It's my kids' safety," said parent Keturah Aponte.

Aponte's three children board the school bus at this spot every morning and she says she's had enough.

"We are waving our hands and pointing to the lights and the big letters saying you have to stop," said Aponte.

KSBY visited the same bus stop a few weeks ago and found drivers were not paying attention to the flashing lights; even a city bus passed by.

When we returned on Friday, a California Highway Patrol Officer was parked in front of the bus stop and caught drivers violating the law.

"We saw a couple of red light violators and stopped them, made contact and did the appropriate action as the situation warranted," said Sergeant John Ploetz, Santa Maria CHP.

Sergeant Ploetz says education and enforcement may help drivers follow the law, but it's a problem that needs some attention.

"We do get calls from the school bus drivers. Even in residential areas, people go around the bus," said Sergeant Ploetz. "There's children getting on and off that bus and kids could be crossing the street and you're waiting for a tragedy to happen."

Drivers pulled over by the CHP got off with a warning.

California law requires all vehicles to stop when a school bus's red lights are flashing. The only exception is if cars are driving on the other side of a divided highway. They don't have to stop, but cars going in the same direction as the bus must stop. The fine for not stopping can be up to $1,000.



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