Killeen Independent School District and Killeen City Council officials addressed the issue of illegal bus passing in Killeen during a joint workshop meeting Tuesday where both sides agreed it’s still a problem.

During the 2020-2021 school year, according to the district, Killeen ISD documented 258 incidents of illegal bus passing in the city limits of Killeen — more than one incident a day for the 165-day school year.

In comparison, 20 illegal bus passing incidents were reported in Harker Heights, two at Fort Hood and one in Nolanville during the same time period.

The illegal passing issue has sent more than one student to the hospital in past years. Most recently, on the first day of in-person school last year, a middle school student was injured when he was struck by a Ford F-150 while crossing the street in front of his school bus.

Longtime KISD bus driver, William “Bill” Jones, was cited by police in the incident for failing to activate his flashing warning lights.

Jones was found dead at Cedar Gap Park in Harker Heights last fall from a gunshot wound to the chest following his firing from KISD over the accident.

Councilman Steve Harris told KISD Superintendent John Craft school bus safety was an issue he heard of frequently from his constituents.

“In regards to that, on behalf of the citizens, is there any way for the district to put some type of camera that could catch vehicles being passed by the bus,” Harris asked Killeen ISD officials Tuesday.

Craft answered that the city and the school district entered into a pilot program together to have cameras to stop such violators eight years ago, but it was a program that was not pursued past the pilot phase.

“You can imagine there were hot spots identified,” Craft said of the pilot program.

The superintendent said that the pilot program’s data showed violators were illegally passing school buses in areas of high traffic, on four-lane roads, and when the school bus was on the opposite side of the road from the violator.

“After each day, the close of business, there would be violations caught on camera and citations would be issued, mailed to the motorist,” he said.

But Craft said “it because evident early on during the pilot program” the citations did little to curtail the problem because KISD citations were not considered a legally enforceable citation.

“There was really no consequence to elect not to pay the fine,” he said.

Craft said part of the problem may be a lack of awareness of traffic laws on the part of the violator.

The school district released an informational bus safety public service announcement video in January to educate drivers on the proper steps to take when a school bus is stopped on a roadway.

Mayor Pro Tem Debbie Nash-King said a focus on expanding the city’s police force might help curtail the bus passing problem.

“We are trying to hire more officers,” she said.

Craft thanked city council members for their support Tuesday.

“We appreciate the support in anything to keep our students safe,” he said. “I’ve witnessed it myself and it’s scary.”

ldodd@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

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(1) comment

Eckman

I'd like to say I'm surprised, but motorists are selfish. Whenever there is a red light there is almost always another half dozen cars that decide that wherever they are going is more important than those around them.

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