This week is National School Bus Safety Week. As someone who is passionate about safety this is a great time to let you know the yellow school bus is the safest form of transportation to get a child to and from school. Whenever you see a yellow bus in your community you need to slow down and be aware there are children nearby. It is also important to note if you are driving and see a school bus stopped with its flashing red lights it means you need to stop. Children will be getting on or off of that school bus.
Passing a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing is a crime in New York State. Section 1174 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law of The State of New York requires that all motorists from either direction approaching a school bus with its red lights engaged shall come to a full stop before reaching the school bus. This law applies to public highways, streets, private roads and any area used for the parking of motor vehicles or used as a driveway located on the grounds of a school.
Every person convicted of violating this law can be punished by a fine of at least $250 and/or imprisonment of up to thirty days. A second violation within three years of the first conviction leads to a fine of at least $600 and up to 180 days in jail. Passing a stopped yellow school bus with its red lights flashing is just not worth any time a motorist would save.
New York State takes pride in training school transportation professionals to the highest standards. This includes continuous classroom training for school bus drivers and monitors as well as ongoing inspection and maintenance of school buses to rigorous federal and state specifications. School Transportation Departments plan daily routes that are as efficient and safe as possible. Despite all of these efforts, the one thing we cannot guarantee is that all motorists will STOP when they approach a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing.
The New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) reminds us the school bus is equipped with several key features that clearly should remind motorists that it is stopping to pick up or drop off children:
• It's large size and bright CHROME YELLOW in its coloring;
• It has front and rear signs that identify it as a "SCHOOL BUS;"
• It displays FLASHING RED LIGHTS in the upper front and upper rear corners of the bus;
• It has large STOP signs that emerge from the left side of the bus and often have their own flashing lights for visibility. Some school buses are being equipped with right side STOP arms.
There is just no excuse for passing a stopped yellow school bus with its red lights flashing. Just seeing a yellow bus stopped anyplace should be enought to alert a motorist there may be children nearby; even if the red lights aren't flashing. I urge you to be aware of the yellow school bus and Respect the Bus™