Long Island, NY - October 25, 2018 - During National School Bus Safety Week, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) are reminding motorists to stop and wait whenever they encounter a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing and “stop” sign extended. Drivers who pass a stopped school bus illegally could be ticketed and face fines and other penalties. Motorists should also watch for students as they walk or bike to school and always follow the posted speed limits.
“Illegally passing school buses is a chronic problem that puts students in serious danger,” said DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner and Acting GTSC Chair Terri Egan. “When parents send their children to school, they should not have to fear for the child’s safety because of a driver’s careless behavior. Whether you encounter a school bus from the front or from the rear, if its lights are flashing red, drivers must stop. It is the law. If the yellow lights are flashing, the bus is preparing to stop and so should you.”
Drivers convicted of passing a stopped school bus face a fine of $250 to $400, five points on their driver license, and up to 30 days jail time for a first violation. Three violations in three years can result in a maximum fine of $1,000, five points, a six-month license revocation, registration revocation, and up to six months jail time.
A one-day survey conducted in March 2018 by the New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) found that an estimated 30,252 drivers statewide illegally passed a school bus that day, including 280 drivers who passed on the passenger side of the bus where students board and exit. To address the problem, NYAPT and GTSC support “Operation Safe Stop,” a one-day enforcement effort in which police officers patrol selected bus routes where there is a history of illegal passing complaints. They issue tickets to drivers who pass stopped buses.
During the crackdown in April 2018, more than 850 drivers statewide were ticketed for illegally passing stopped school buses. As a result of this effort, State Police and local law enforcement also issued 3,044 tickets for other traffic violations and made 89 arrests for offenses including drunk driving and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.
Motorists must always stop for school buses when the red lights are flashing, including buses on the opposite sides of divided highways, on multiple lane roadways, in parking lots and on school grounds. To emphasize the importance of obeying this law, DMV produced an Operation Safe Stop video, which can be viewed below.
DMV and GTSC also encourage parents to discuss school bus safety with their children, including teaching them to always look both ways when crossing the street and to look to the right when they step off a bus. Parents who meet their children at the bus stop after school should wait on the side where the child will be dropped off, not across the street.