According to a survey conducted by the New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT), it is estimated that more than 10,000 motorists passed a stopped school bus statewide on Feb. 24.
The survey was completed by members of NYAPT to call attention to the dangers of illegal passing and involved school bus drivers from a sample of 26 school districts across New York state.
The results of the one-day survey showed a total of 259 illegal passing incidents. A total of 1,288 school bus drivers reported incidents.
The breakdown of the total number of incidents recorded is:
• Left side illegal passes during morning runs: 100
• Left side illegal passes during afternoon runs: 153
• Right side illegal passes during morning runs: 0
• Right side illegal passes during afternoon runs: 6
“These school bus drivers reported 259 illegal passes on that one day,” explained Peter Mannella, NYAPT’s executive director. “There are 50,000 or more school bus drivers in New York. If we expand that number out to 50,000 school buses, we would have seen 10,054 illegal passes on that day … and that is a problem.”
Over the years, NYAPT has estimated that motorists pass school buses some 50,000 times each day, and frequent research and surveys have borne that out. Additionally, school bus drivers are reporting a regular occurrence of motorists passing stopped school buses on the right side, or the side that the children board and disembark from the bus.
NYAPT has campaigned for many years in efforts to reduce the incidence of such illegal passing of school buses. The association conducts a one-day Operation Safe Stop enforcement campaign annually that will yield an average of 1,250-1,300 tickets to motorists who break the law.
“We are deeply concerned that a passing motorist will strike and kill a student or injure a student,” NYAPT President David Adam said. “We are intent on calling the public’s attention to this highway safety risk and to get parents and educators engaged in reducing illegal passing.”
“As a part of our overall safety efforts, NYAPT is conducting regular surveys of school bus drivers in various school districts and contractor operations across the state,” said Thomas Weeks, NYAPT’s Operation Safe Stop chairman. “We simply are asking them to record the number of times their buses are passed illegally by motorists on the survey day. It was important to share the results of these surveys and we will continue to report the data throughout the 2014-15 school year.”
“We continue to call upon the public to stop when they approach a stopped school bus,” Mannella added. “We also call upon the state Legislature and the governor to enact legislation to allow the installation of stop-arm cameras on school buses to enable us to apprehend illegal passers and issue tickets to the violators. Had there been cameras on our buses, there would have been over 10,000 tickets issued and motorists reminded of the dangers of illegally passing stopped school buses.”