The New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT), a statewide organization dedicated to the support, development and representation of professionals responsible for the safe and efficient transportation of our school children, is supporting National School Bus Safety Week – an annual event promoting school bus safety.
The theme for this year’s National School Bus Safety Week is “Red Lights Mean STOP!”; reminding drivers that they must stop when they see those red lights flashing on a school bus. New York Association for Pupil Transportation surveys have shown that over 50,000 motorists in New York illegally pass stopped school buses every school day placing our students’ lives at danger.
“The illegal passing of stopped school buses continues to be a threat to the safe transportation of our student passengers and is simply unacceptable,” said NYAPT President Harold Nicholson. “Please don’t be distracted while driving, and when you see a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing – STOP, a child’s life depends on it.”
New York State Vehicle and Traffic law requires all vehicles to come to a full stop when approaching a school bus stopped with red lights flashing. Those lights indicate that a child is either boarding or disembarking a school bus. New York state law prohibits the passing of a school bus that is stopped with red lights flashing regardless of your direction of travel, or even if there is a multi-lane or divided highway.
Penalties for a first-time offense include a fine from $250 to $400, five points on your license and the possibility of 30 days in jail. A second conviction within three years will result in a $600 to $750 fine and up to 180 days in jail; while three or more convictions will result in a fine from $750 to $1,000, mandatory revocation of your driver’s license and up to 180 days in jail.
A recently approved stop arm camera law in New York also automatically levies fines to the owner of any vehicle that illegally passes a stopped school bus. Fines are $250 for a first violation and up to $300 for subsequent violations.
NYAPT is also reminding drivers that the COVID pandemic has caused additional strain and challenges for the entire school transportation industry, and that the industry is proud to share in the success of the opening of schools across New York during these unprecedented times. NYAPT asks that you take time out during National School Bus Safety Week to thank all those school transportation professionals for the hard work they have done in providing our students with a safe ride back and forth to school each and every day.
NYAPT noted that the 2.3 million children who ride school buses in New York State are driven by qualified and well-trained school bus drivers on routes carefully planned for safety, that buses are maintained at the highest of safety standards, and that school transportation officials are doing their best to keep students safe when they are on or near a school bus.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, students are 70 times safer riding a school bus to school versus a private car. See www.nhtsa.gov