Law enforcement officers in New York are keeping a close lookout for motorists illegally passing school buses on Thursday.
The statewide efforts are part of the annual Operation Safe Stop Day in New York. Patrols from local, county, and state police agencies are focusing on school bus stops that pupil transportation officials have identified as hot spots of stop-arm running.
The New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) is coordinating Operation Safe Stop events in the state, including a press event Thursday morning at Union-Endicott High School in the Binghamton area. Local press events are also being held in several other parts of the state.
Multiple monthly surveys by NYAPT have estimated that more than 40,000 school bus stop-arm violations occurred statewide in one day.
“We are still deeply concerned that literally thousands of New Yorkers put our children at serious risk every day by not stopping in accordance with the law,” said Lori-Ann Savino, president of NYAPT and director of transportation for the Jericho School District. “We annually observe Operation Safe Stop Day simply because illegal passing places our children at risk each and every time they board or leave their school bus.”
“When parents send their children to school, they should not fear for their safety because of another motorist’s careless and reckless behavior,” added Peter Mannella, executive director of NYAPT. “We urge motorists to stop when the bus has its red lights flashing.”
In New York, penalties for a first conviction of illegally passing a school bus include a fine of $250 to $400 and possible imprisonment of up to 30 days. A third or subsequent conviction within three years bears a fine of $750 to $1,000 and possible imprisonment of up to 180 days.
“There is no excuse for passing a stopped school bus,” said Faye Stevens, region safety manager for First Student, which has 11 New York locations participating in Operation Safe Stop. “When motorists disobey the law, they put students at risk. Working together on Operation Safe Stop, we hope to prevent injuries and save lives.”
In last year’s Operation Safe Stop, officers from 95 participating law enforcement agencies gave out 859 tickets for passing stopped school buses and 1,547 tickets for other moving violations.
NYAPT’s Operation Safe Stop chair, Michael Klenotiz, thanked the police and sheriff patrols that are working with school districts and contractors to protect children around school buses.
“In every corner of our state, we work as a team with our police partners to keep our precious children safe from harm,” said Klenotiz, who is the transportation supervisor for Oneida City School District. “It’s a great partnership for our children.”