“Operation Blue Bird” brings awareness to school bus safety, issuing 83 citations

Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 5:43 PM PST|Updated: Feb. 7, 2022 at 4:07 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - UPDATE, FEBRUARY 7: Operation Blue Bird resulted in 83 citations being issued for a variety of traffic-related violations, according to Nevada State Police, Highway Patrol. The majority of the citations (39) were for speeding. Other violations included improper U-turns, stop sign violations, failing to yield to pedestrians, and distracted driving.

ORIGINAL STORY: The school buses are lined up here at Swope Middle School waiting for students to board.

But before that happens Trooper Daisy Gaynor steps on the bus and take a front row seat. She will be riding with driver Donna Hulsizer looking out the window and spotting drivers who are not following traffic laws and making Donna’s job that much more difficult.

“We are carrying the most precious cargo there is,” says Hulsizer. People don’t understand that. Unless you are a parent on that bus,” she says.

“Operation Bluebird” gets its name from the school bus manufacturer. But that’s where the name and the operation connection ceases.

The joint effort between NHP, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, and school police is made possible with a grant which focuses on schools and traffic safety.

If Trooper Gaynor sees a traffic violation, she says so on her radio. That alerts law enforcement stationed in the area to stop the car for an alleged violation.

Donna’s route takes her to a middle school, high school, and elementary school. And at each stop drivers were cited for various infractions.

Trooper Charles Caster says the slower speeds, the stop signs on sides of school buses, and the traffic laws inside school zones are there for a reason. But many times, drivers have their minds on other things.

“People are focused on other things,” says Trooper Caster. “The things they need to get done in the morning. Dropping off their kids. They need to perhaps go to work. They are making that B line. Maybe it is something they do every day. So, they are just in this auto pilot mode,” says the Trooper.

At the stops we captured this afternoon officers say drivers made a U-turn in a school zone. The law went into effect in 2015 and yet it’s not uncommon for drivers to make the mistake.

But it can be costly.

Trooper Caster says drivers can make the same infraction in school zones as they would on regular streets.

But the ticket will cost double as the violation happens in a school zone.

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