The New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) has released the results of a survey taken on March 16 to measure incidences of motorists illegally passing stopped school buses, and estimates that over 25,000 violations occurred statewide that day.
The results require a call to action by New York parents, community leaders, and the media, according to the NYAPT.
In the 27 school districts that participated, 800 school bus drivers reported they were passed a total of 404 times, including nine passes on the right side of the school bus.
At that rate of passing, when applied to over 50,000 school buses in New York state, the total estimated illegal passing rate is 25,250 passes for that day. That same calculation would mean that 562 motorists passed school buses on the right side of the bus on that day.
Since October 2015 when NYAPT started conducting these surveys, the results have been:
• October 2015: 19,129
• November 2015: 30,735
• December 2015: 32,456
• January 2016: 23,841
• February 2016: 34,871
• March 2016: 25,250
“While we have done this survey all school year, we have been alarmed at the high levels of illegal passing,” said NYAPT President David Adam. “The fact is that the March level of over 25,000 passes heightens our fears for our children. It shows a continued disregard for safety by our fellow motorists and represents over 25,000 opportunities for children to be injured and killed. I also know that it really bothers our bus drivers, who see these passes every day while they are working hard to protect our children. This level of risk is totally unacceptable.”
NYAPT is urging the Senate and Assembly to pass legislation that will allow cameras to be mounted on school buses and the evidence from those cameras to be used to prosecute motorists who pass stopped school buses illegally. NYAPT believes there is significant support for that legislation (S3509B-Sen. Catharine Young and A1520B-Assemblyman William Magnarelli) and that it would pass in both houses if it came to a vote.
“It’s time for action. While we wish that motorists would show respect for the school bus and for the children, we need to get serious about enforcement,” said Peter Mannella, NYAPT’s executive director. “It should be as easy as ‘if you pass, you will get a ticket,’ but it isn’t. We need to pass legislation that will help us apprehend and ticket motorists who blow by red lights in ignorance, distraction or indifference. It’s time New Yorkers lined up in support of safety for our children. Stop for the school bus. It’s all for the safety of our children.”