POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — Barbara DeLong was named the winner of the 14th annual School Bus Driver of the Year award in Dutchess County on Wednesday.

DeLong, a driver for Arlington Central School District, was chosen for the recognition because of her exemplary service and safety record, county officials said.

The annual award is part of the Dutchess County Traffic Safety Board’s efforts to promote school bus safety. The honor is given in conjunction with the launch of the annual Operation Safe Stop project.

“Our children’s safety is our utmost priority, and school bus drivers take their responsibility for children’s safety very seriously,” Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro said. “Today we say thank you to all the bus drivers who transport our children with such care and remind drivers that they also have an important role in bus safety. Always stop when the red lights are flashing on a school bus. The extra moment could save a life.”

For Operation Safe Stop, police officers in Dutchess County targeted enforcement efforts at what school transportation officials have identified as “hot spots” for stop-arm violations.

DeLong was presented with a commemorative plaque and honored as the School Bus Driver of the Year at an Operation Safe Stop kickoff press conference at Arlington High School on Wednesday morning. She has worked for the Arlington school district for 20 years.

“Mrs. DeLong is a model driver. She understands what it is to be a school bus driver — not just what it takes to drive a school bus,” said William Johnson, administrator of the Dutchess County Traffic Safety Board. “In 29-plus years driving buses loaded with students, she has had no accidents — an exceptional safety achievement.”

Johnson added that DeLong is also “respected by supervisory staff, her peers, and the students and parents she has touched over the years.”

The Dutchess County Traffic Safety Board’s School Bus Driver of the Year award was initiated in 2002 to increase public awareness of school bus safety issues and to recognize school bus drivers for their service. The award is a partnership with the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee and the Mid-Hudson Transportation Supervisors Association.

Watch the award presentation to DeLong below.

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