ALBANY, N.Y. — The New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) joined forces with state legislators last week in an effort to stop motorists from passing stopped school buses.
"There are 2.3 million children who are put in harm's way every time a motorist decides to pass a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing. We cannot continue to expose our children to that kind of danger of injury, and even death, because drivers can't take the time to stop for the school bus," said John McCormick, NYAPT president and transportation supervisor at Riverhead (N.Y.) Central School District.
NYAPT has called upon the state Senate and Assembly to pass several pieces of legislation that would increase the penalties for illegal school bus passing incidents, assist in educating motorists on the dangers of such incidents and establish a means to assist in prosecuting violators.
Assembly bill A.10240 would create a crime of vehicular homicide when an individual takes the life of a child under the age of 15 in the act of passing a stopped school bus. It would also increase penalties for illegally passing a stopped school bus three times in three years and allow for suspension of a driver's license for 60 days.
Assembly bill A.4054 would establish a dedicated fund for motorist education from the fines collected from illegal passing convictions.
Finally, Assembly bill A.7778 would allow for a ticket for illegal passing violations to be written against the individual to whom a vehicle is registered and to use photographic evidence to prosecute illegal passers.
"Keeping New York's schoolchildren safe is a top priority for myself, as well as the rest of the legislature," Assemblyman Michael Cusick said. "Failing to stop when children are boarding or departing a school bus is dangerous and irresponsible, and we hope that by creating stiffer penalties for this dangerous behavior it will create a safer environment for our state's children."
"We have operated demonstration projects in four locations in the state using sophisticated digital license reader technology. The results in all four locations upheld our estimate that there are over 50,000 illegal passes in our state each school day. These bills respond to different aspects of the problem and perhaps save the life of a child as a result. We thank Assembly members Gantt, Cusick and Rivera as well as Senators Foley and Hassel-Thompson for their insight and leadership in sponsoring and advocating for these bills," said NYAPT Executive Director Peter Mannella.
NYAPT members visited Albany last week to advocate passage of the aforementioned package of legislation, as well as to advocate for budget action related to school transportation services and for legislation to enhance school bus driver candidate screening.
For further information on these issues, contact NYAPT at (518) 463-4937 or visit the NYAPT Website and click on the “Advocacy and Issues Development” tab.