OPD taking extra measures against disregarded bus safety laws

Published 3:17 pm Friday, January 25, 2019

In response to Oxford and Lafayette County residents disregarding bus safety laws, Oxford Police has increased activity over the past week in attempts to catch violators.

OPD has been increasing police presence around specific roads, and even put police officers on busses sporadically, according to police captain Hildon Sessums.

Police rode along on school busses twice this week, and developed a system where officers on busses radio information – usually the road the bus is currently on, license plate number or make and model of the car – about a driver that goes around a stopped bus.

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In two bus rides this week, OPD only issued one ticket, which Sessums says he hopes means residents are following bus laws, but OPD isn’t able to confirm this due to the multitude of bus routes.

“You think about all the buses in town,” Sessums said. “We don’t have the manpower to follow every bus.”

Disregarded bus laws were put into the national spotlight in November when a nine-year-old child was struck and killed in Lee County, Mississippi, while crossing the street to get on his bus.

Last month, Oxford School District reported a violation trend with bus route numbers 42, 24, 7, and 32. These bus routes run along Highway 334, Old Sardis Road, College Hill, Thacker Road, West Jackson Avenue, Anchorage Road and Anderson Road.

Last month, the EAGLE reported that Oxford residents drove around stopped busses 33 times in October and 34 times in November.

After hearing multiple complaints, OPD spit-balled ideas in order to curb disregarded bus laws. This is where they came up with increased police presence and officers on busses, according to Sessums.

“Usually when they see a police car, they don’t pass a bus,” Sessums said.

Sessums said OPD wants the public to have a better understanding of how the bus laws work.

Residents driving in both directions are required to stop when the bus outstretches its arm with the stop sign attached to it. The only time residents on the opposite side of the road are allowed to proceed is if a median or physical barrier divides the roads.

Sessums said OPD will continue to sporadically put officers on busses during the morning hours and increase its presence on the road.

“It’s a shame that people can’t wait,” Sessums said. “But, we’re doing our best.”