On Tuesday, the New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) partnered with the AAA Hudson Valley on a press event to enhance school bus safety awareness among motorists as the back-to-school season gets into full swing.  

Press event speakers included Nancy McMahon of the AAA Hudson Valley, Peter Mannella, executive director of the NYAPT, and local law enforcement officers and lawmakers, according to timesunion.

Mannella applauded AAA on the 70-year anniversary of its “School’s Open — Drive Carefully” campaign, discussed the safety measures taken by the pupil transportation industry, and stressed the need for motorists to follow the law when driving near school buses.

“I am here today to speak for those 2.3 million schoolchildren who are boarding school buses again this fall for their daily journey to school," Mannella said. “When those children leave their homes and walk toward our bright yellow school buses, they and their parents place their trust in us as transportation professionals to ensure the integrity of their school bus and the abilities of their school bus driver to navigate that school bus safely in traffic and to pick them up at the assigned time and place.

“But they also place their trust in the motorists of our state, the people behind the wheels of vehicles that can kill and injure them, to obey the laws of the road. One key law that we are focusing on today requires that motorists stop for school buses that have stopped and are picking up or dropping off students.”

Mannella also said that in monthly surveys conducted by the NYAPT, school bus drivers in the state reported between 18,000 and 20,000 illegal school bus passing incidents by motorists every day.

Additionally, NYAPT officials called the public’s attention to some of the reasons the school bus is so safe and to underscore how hard school transportation professionals work to ensure a safe ride to and from school for students.

The 50,000 school buses in New York are built to federal and state standards, and are maintained and inspected on a schedule by the state and each day by local drivers and mechanics, NYAPT officials said.

Moreover, the 50,000 school bus drivers in New York are prepared with a variety of state-sanctioned licensing procedures, medical screening, state-sanctioned training and regular testing of their abilities and their integrity as professional drivers, according to NYAPT. Their performance is monitored regularly to ensure they conduct their routes and transport children safely and efficiently.

In addition, school districts and school bus contractors spend hours engaged in routing and scheduling to ensure the safety and efficiency of their daily bus routes to and from school. Many have incorporated the newest technologies to monitor the progress and location of each school bus for security and efficiency purposes.

Most importantly, New York had another safe school year in 2014-15, in which no children were killed as a result of a school bus accident, NYAPT officials said.

“There is one thing that we ask the public and motorists in every community to do for our children: Stop when you see a school bus stopped to pick up or discharge students,” said David Adam, NYAPT president and transportation director at Marcus Whitman Central School District. “Our buses have red lights flashing and stop arms extended from their sides. Illegally passing a stopped school bus is against the law.”

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