082517 school bus stop sign

A stop sign is shown on a Lompoc Unified School District bus Friday afternoon. On Tuesday, the California Highway Patrol will conduct an enhanced enforcement operation focusing on drivers who fail to stop for school bus stop signals in Vandenberg Village and Mission Hills.

The California Highway Patrol will conduct an enhanced enforcement operation that will focus on drivers who fail to stop for school bus stop signals in Vandenberg Village and Mission Hills on Tuesday.

The effort aims to improve pedestrian safety and stop vehicles from illegally passing school buses, according to the CHP.

Each year, the California Department of Education conducts a School Bus Illegal Passing Driver Survey. Last year’s survey, which included 137 school districts and nine school bus contractors, revealed that more than 26,000 motorists failed to stop for a school bus that was loading or unloading children.

“As a staunch leader in traffic safety, the CHP answered the call by initiating school bus pedestrian safety enforcement operations,” read a portion of the statement released by the law enforcement agency.

During the enforcement operation, CHP officers will ride as passengers on school buses and actively watch for motorists who fail to stop for a school bus with its flashing red lights activated and stop arm extended, if the bus has one. The officers will be in communication with CHP patrol vehicles in proximity of the school bus.

Drivers who are observed illegally passing a school bus during the operation will be stopped and issued either a warning or a traffic citation.

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The law requires that motorists remain stopped, in both directions, as long as a bus’ red lights are flashing. Drivers who fail to stop can be fined up to $1,000 and their driving privileges could be suspended for a year. Yellow flashing lights on a school bus warn drivers to slow down and prepare to stop.

If the school bus is on the other side of a divided or multilane highway, drivers do not need to stop.

“The project is designed to educate and remind motorists, parents, and students of the importance of school bus pedestrian safety,” read the CHP release. “This message will be conveyed by distributing school bus pedestrian safety tip cards, posters displayed at schools, and in video clips on social media.”

Funding for the operation was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to the CHP.

Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.