LATHAM, N.Y. — For National School Bus Safety Week, the New York School Bus Contractors Association (NYSBCA) is holding a variety of school bus safety events throughout the state and renewed its call for stiffer penalties for drivers who illegally pass stopped school buses.
“The New York School Bus Contractors Association proudly supports this year’s National School Bus Safety Week and its nationwide effort to promote school bus safety,” said Mike Martucci, president of the NYSBCA. “School buses are, by far, the safest way for a child to get to and from school every day, and school districts and contractors are doing a fantastic job here in New York. However, we never stop looking for ways to make that ride even safer and to help educate the public about school bus safety issues.”
As part of National School Bus Safety Week, many New York pupil transportation providers are holding special school bus safety events to raise awareness in their communities, reward drivers and other employees for outstanding safety records, and educate students and parents about the importance of school bus safety.
These events include:
• The third annual Tribute to School Bus Safety Event, held by Suffolk Transportation Service. The event brings together school transportation safety experts, school officials, school board members, PTA members, and community leaders for an intensive school bus safety educational session. This year’s topics include school bus security, advanced special-needs training, and the latest in school bus safety technology.
• An educational campaign for parents held by Quality Bus Service. Some of the school bus safety concerns Quality Bus is addressing include parents checking their child’s clothing and backpacks to ensure there are no loose items that could be caught on the bus’ door, and how to ensure optimal safety at school bus stops, especially during the winter and inclement weather.
• Recognition throughout the week by WE Transport/Towne Bus/Van Trans of drivers with exceptional safety records, with special certificates and free breakfasts, as a way to thank them for always putting student safety first.
The NYSBCA is also using the occasion to renew its call for the passage of legislation sponsored by state Senators John Bonacic and Rich Funke to increase the penalties on drivers convicted of illegally passing a stopped school bus. Drivers ticketed for a first offense currently face up to 30 days in jail, as much as a $400 fine, and a five-point penalty on their driver's license.
Funke’s legislation (S.2978) would increase the range of fines for illegally passing a stopped school bus to a minimum of $400 for a first offense to a maximum of $1,500 for a third or subsequent offense, depending on the number of convictions. The legislation also requires that a person who injures someone while passing a school bus be charged with aggravated vehicular assault, and if a person is killed in the incident, the legislation requires a charge of criminally negligent homicide. Funke’s bill has been approved by the state Senate in the past, but failed to move in the Assembly.
Bonacic’s legislation (S.1634) calls for the additional penalty of a 60-day suspension of a person’s driver's license when that person is convicted of illegally passing a stopped school bus two or more times within a 10-year period. The bill has also been approved unanimously by the state Senate in the past, but has not moved in the Assembly in recent years.