'Busted by the Bus': School bus full of officers helps identify distracted drivers
EAGAN, Minn. (FOX 9) - Police in Minnesota are cracking down on distracted driving once again, but this time, they boarded a school bus to catch those breaking the law.
Wednesday's operation was called, "Busted by the Bus," because distracted driving is an even bigger issue when it comes to school buses.
Police say, when drivers go around that stop arm, it's usually because they're looking at their cell phone.
At one point during the day, one driver was spotted clearly using their cell phone to text. She was totally unaware that several police officers and cameras were watching her illegal activity from a big, yellow school bus.
"They don't have that wherewithal to look around and see what's going on before they start moving in traffic again," said Alison Burstein, an Eagan Police Officer. "So, it's scary."
Another driver was also found with their eyes off the road and on a phone near what could be a bus full of children.
"I looked into the vehicle and I could see the driver of a black Cadillac sedan," said Chris Meade of that particular stop. "He had his phone in his right hand, kinda resting in the center of the steering wheel, kinda texting with one thumb, holding the steering wheel with his left hand."
The goal of "Busted by the Bus" is to get drivers to be extra cautious around school buses. Police say drivers usually go around the stop arms because they're distracted, so Wednesday's lesson is to react to a school bus like driver's would a squad car. Slow down and obey the law.
Patrol officers on the road were doing the other half of today's operation, pulling over drivers that the bus spotters called in.
Officer Kris Mua was happy to do it, as she thinks distracted driving is as dangerous and drunk driving.
"The driving conduct of someone on a cell phone, it's almost as if at least for me, I think that they're intoxicated," Mua said. "Weaving in and out of traffic lanes, stopping at a green light."
Minnesota's new state law goes into effect in August. It forces everyone to go hands-free.
Wednesday was just yet another round of lessons for area drivers as the state gets closer to that change.