Yesterday, April 23, 2009, was this year’s Operation Safe Stop Day, a day when law police officers ride on board school buses and in marked and unmarked patrol units on selected bus routes that have a history of illegal passing complaints. Police will issue tickets to drivers who pass stopped school buses. All violations will be reported to a central command post so that final figures will be available to state and local officials as well as the media.
More than 2.3 million New York children take the bus to school each day. An estimated 50,000 motor vehicles illegally pass New York State school buses every day. Flashing red lights on the top of school buses mean that the bus is picking up or discharging students. Between the years 2002 through 2004, there were 69 students injured and one killed by motorists who passed stopped school buses.
The law (Section 1174 of the Vehicle & Traffic Law) required drivers to stop whether approaching the school bus from the front or overtaking it from the rear. Drivers must always stop for flashing red lights, even on divided and multilane highways and on school grounds. The first-time fine for illegally passing a school bus is a $250 fine, 5 points on your license, and/or possibly 30 days in jail. A second conviction within three years is a minimum $600 fine. A third is a minimum $750 fine, according to Nassau County police.
The New York Association for Pupil Transportation conducts its annual awareness campaign Operation Safe Stop to promote school bus safety through education and enforcement efforts. Operation Safe Stop is a cooperative project supported by the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, the New York State Education Department, the New York Association for Pupil Transportation, the New York State School Bus Contractors Association, the student transportation industry and state, county, city and local law enforcement agencies.
A public service announcement produced by Operation Safe Stop and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee to make drivers more aware of the law and the dangers in passing a school bus with its red lights flashing goes as follows: “Children singing in the background – The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round All Through the Town. Announcer: In the last four years, 35 students were hit by motorists passing stopped school buses in New York State. Every day nearly 50,000 motor vehicles illegally pass our school buses. Did you know you can’t even pass stopped school buses in the school yard if their stop sign is out? Please take the time to know and understand the law. Our children are the future. Keep them safe by following the rules of school bus safety. Brought to you by Operation Safe Stop and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.”
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