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MPD blitz means $150 tickets for ignoring flashing red bus lights

Motorists should be more aware of not ignoring the flashing red lights on school buses this week – or they may be seeing red lights in their rearview mirrors from pursuing motorcycle officers Wednesday and Thursday.

Manteca Police Motorcycle Traffic Sergeant Josh Sweeten said he will have a dozen officers assigned to the campaign over the two-day enforcement period to hopefully lessen the frustrations faced by Manteca Unified  bus drivers on their daily routes where everybody always seems to be in too much of a hurry and often driving around the stopped buses.  

Those school bus drivers tell of too many motorists ignoring the flashing red lights on their school buses when they are loading and unloading students both at their regular stops at the school campuses and throughout the community.  The district has 48 home to school bus routes.

The crackdown comes on the heels of two incidents back East where drivers ignored the flashing red lights and struck children. In one incident four students died.

It was pointed out drivers approaching stopped buses on the opposite side of the roadway are also required to stop when they see the flashing red lights on the buses.  The Manteca Traffic Unit along with school resource officers are conducting a traffic enforcement campaign this Wednesday and Thursday with citations amounting to $150 for the first violation and up to $1,000 and a possible license suspension for the second violation.

“Passing a school bus with flashing red lights is not only dangerous but also illegal,” noted Manteca Police Chief Jodie Estarziau.  “For the safety of children and bus drivers alike, we are asking the public to be aware of school buses and to stop on red.”

“Our bus operators report red light violators nearly every day,” noted Melody Ford, director of transportation for MUSD .

California state law requires drivers in both directions to stop whenever a school bus has activated its flashing red lights and stop signal arm.  Drivers must remain stopped until the flashing red lights are turned off.  Flashing yellow lights mean that motorists should slow their vehicles and prepare to stop.  If the school bus is on the other side of a divided roadway with two or more lanes in each direction, drivers do not need to stop.

The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services found in a recent May survey that nearly 14,000 drivers statewide failed to stop for a school bus that had stopped to drop office or pick up students from reports of nearly 5,000 bus drivers throughout the nation. It was also noted that school bus drivers must be attentive to both the children in their care as well as the oncoming motoring public.

To contact Glenn Kahl, email