Law enforcement throughout New York went on high alert April 28 for Operation Safe Stop, planning to ticket motorists caught passing school buses that were stopped and flashing their red lights.
The New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) and the state’s Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) conducted a survey that found about 50,000 motorists illegally pass school buses throughout the state every school day.
“There is zero tolerance in New York State for drivers who pass a stopped school bus, and that is why education and enforcement campaigns like Operation Safe Stop are critical,” said Mark J.F. Schroeder, GTSC chair and commissioner of the state Department of Motor Vehicles. “Every child deserves to be safe as they get on and off the bus, and drivers have the responsibility to stop and wait. We are proud of our continuing support of this campaign to keep children safe and help educate motorists.”
The NYAPT and GTSC have partnered on this initiative since 2003. It is supported through grants from GTSC and funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“School children have a lot on their minds during the school day and traveling safely to and from school shouldn’t be one of them,” said David Christopher, executive director of NYAPT. “We remind motorists to slow down, don’t be distracted and watch for school buses that are stopped with red lights flashing to pick up or drop off students at their bus stops. Don’t be one of the 50,000 drivers in New York who threaten a child’s life each day by illegally passing a stopped school bus. Remember, stop on red, our kids are ahead.”
The New York School Bus Contractors Association (NYSBC) also participated in the annual public awareness event.
“Operation Safe Stop is critical in ensuring the safety of New York’s students,” said Nick Vallone, president of the NYSBC. “Raising awareness on the issue of illegal passing of school buses is an all-hands-on-deck effort that we are proud to support every year.”
Drivers are expected to stop whether approaching the school bus from the front or overtaking from the rear, and must always stop for flashing red lights, even on New York’s divided and multilane highways and on school grounds.
Heads up, Marauder family! Today is #OperationSafeStop — a NYS initiative focused on educating drivers about school bus safety.— Williamson Central School District (@WCSMarauders) April 28, 2022
Today, and every day, please stop for our school buses when their red lights are on.
Thank you to @coneil_wcsd for this message to our community! pic.twitter.com/V15Gn4M2Ce
Tips for Motorists
- Watch carefully for children near school buildings, in areas where school buses are traveling, or where there are signs for school zones or bus stops.
- When school is opening in the morning and closing in the afternoon, the area around the school is busy and crowded. Many children use crosswalks. Car drivers, bikers, and in-line skaters must stop to allow people in the crosswalk to cross the street.
- Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood.
- Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
Tips for Students
- Look carefully to the left, right and left again if you have to cross the street. When school is opening in the morning and closing in the afternoon, the area around the school is very busy and crowded.
- When you are waiting for the school bus, you should wait at the bus stop and stand well back from the curb.
- When you get off the bus:
- Look to the rear of the bus before you step off the bottom step. Our friends at the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute tell us that more and more motorists are passing stopped school buses on the right shoulder - where the door is.
- Take five giant steps straight out the bus door and out of the danger zone (areas around buses where the driver can’t see you).
- Make sure you make eye contact with the driver and wait for the driver to signal you before you cross in front of the bus.
- Never go back for anything you have left on the bus.
- Never bend down near or under the bus.
- Your school district probably has a school bus behavior policy. Your bus driver’s number one interest is your safety so it is important to listen to your bus driver in case there are any special instructions for your bus ride. Be sure to sit quietly in your seat and limit distractions.
In New York, the fine for passing a stopped school bus ranges from a minimum of $250 for a first violation to a maximum of $1,000 for three violations in three years. Jail time could be 30 days for a first violation up to 180 days for a second and third violation in three years. If convicted of three violations in three years, a motorist’s license is revoked for at least six months.