School transportation officials, police chiefs and other leaders throughout New York held events on Thursday to promote school bus safety as part of Operation Safe Stop.
New York’s annual Operation Safe Stop informs the public of the dangers of illegally passing stopped school buses.
On Thursday, law enforcement agencies across the state targeted school bus routes that have a history of illegal passing complaints. Police officers rode on buses and in marked and unmarked patrol units to catch violators and issue tickets.
All violations were reported to a central command post so that the numbers could be made available to state and local officials and the media. Members of the media were also invited to ride along and cover Operation Safe Stop in their areas.
The New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) held a press conference about illegal school bus passing at the East Irondequoit Central School District in Rochester on Thursday morning. School district, law enforcement and government officials were on hand to address “this serious and life-threatening problem,” NYAPT said in a press release.
NYAPT members held Operation Safe Stop events around the state, many with high-profile dignitaries participating. In the capital area, for example, a Safe Stop event drew a county executive, law enforcement officials and members of the New York State Legislature.
On average, NYAPT estimates that 50,000 vehicles illegally pass school buses each day in New York state. According to a recent sample completed by NYAPT on April 14, 422 school bus drivers reported 170 illegal passing incidents.
The breakdown of the total number of incidents recorded is:
- Left side illegal passes during morning runs: 63
- Left side illegal passes during afternoon runs: 103
- Right side illegal passes during morning runs: 0
- Right side illegal passes during afternoon runs: 4
Expanding that sample statewide, an estimated 20,142 illegal passes occurred on that date, setting the stage for Operation Safe Stop Day, said Peter Mannella, executive director of NYAPT.
Penalties for a first offense include a fine of $250 to $400, five points on the driver's license and possible imprisonment of up to 30 days. The penalties increase with subsequent offenses.