Troopers: In first 12 days of school, 99 reports of Minnesota drivers violating school bus traffic laws

During the first 12 days of school, starting the day after Labor Day, they've received 99 reports of drivers violating traffic laws related to school buses, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.

A spokesperson for the State Patrol says the information comes from just 29 districts across the state. This year, the State Patrol is asking districts to report school bus stop-arm violations directly to them so they can collect more data on the issue.

On Wednesday, a parent who lives off a county road in St. Michael captured a video of two cars going through her child’s school bus stop-arm while the stop sign was out and flashing.

"I think they’re just in a hurry and they’re not paying attention and they just can’t be bothered to stop for my kids," Crystal Sayen said.

Sayen posted the video on social media and says she’s heard from many other parents in the area who are seeing the same thing. Sayen says she’s noticed more drivers ignoring the stop-arm this year and says she sees it happen on a weekly basis.

"I really just expect motorists to obey the law but it’s too much to ask I guess," Sayen said.

She says she tries to take down the license plate numbers of vehicles that violate the law to report to law enforcement, but she doesn’t always have a chance to catch the plates. The same goes for bus drivers who are watching the road and their students, making taking down license plate numbers difficult.

"If they’re able to catch the license plate and a description of the driver that’s kind of a bonus," Robert Loeffler, the operations manager for Don’s Bus Service in Albertville, said.

He says his drivers have experienced several vehicles driving through the stop-arm so far this school year but rarely have drivers been able to get a plate number to report.

Catching these violators could become easier soon. This year, the Minnesota State Legislature approved $15 million in grants to go to school districts and bus companies so they can put cameras on all bus stop-arms.

"The goal is to make sure every bus has the opportunity to be equipped with stop-arm cameras to aid in the detection and enforcement of the violators," Lt. Brian Reu, Director of Minnesota State Patrol Pupil Transportation, said.

Districts or companies will apply for the grants. The state will issue about $7.3 million dollars in grants in 2022 and 2023.

"As soon as it’s available for application we’re eager to jump on board," Loeffler said.