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Drivers – Don’t Forget to Stop on Red
Friday, November 2, 2018
Three siblings killed and a friend injured in Indiana.
A 9-year-old boy killed in Mississippi.
A 7-year-old boy killed in Pennsylvania.
Three kids and five adults injured in Florida.
What do these tragedies have in common? All four took place at a bus stop when students were either boarding the bus or waiting for it to arrive.
According to the New York Association of Pupil Transportation, as many as 50,000 motor vehicles illegally pass New York State school buses EVERY SINGLE DAY. Any one of those instances could have resulted in one or more students being injured or killed – just like the incidents that have taken place across the country this week.
Liverpool Central School District Director of Transportation Laura D’Arcangelis said Liverpool school buses aren’t immune to this issue and that the number of vehicles passing stopped school buses has increased dramatically over the last few years. Instances of distracted driving put our students at greater risk.
According to New York State law, it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing. The first-time a person illegally passes a school bus and is stopped by law enforcement, he or she will be fined $250 to $400, receive five points on his or her license and/or spend up to 30 days in jail.
For drivers, it is important to remember that flashing yellow lights signal the bus is about to stop, and that drivers should slow down and prepare to stop as well. Once the bus has stopped and its red lights are flashing, drivers must stop from either direction, even on divided highways, because the bus is either picking up or dropping off riders. Drivers can proceed only when the red lights are turned off and the bus is moving again.
D’Arcangelis said that when the bus driver sees a vehicle pass illegally, he or she tries to take down the license plate number and reports it to the LCSD Transportation Center. The plate information is then submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles in Albany, and the driver receives a letter reminding them that they need to stop for school buses with their red lights flashing. In cases of egregious and ongoing situations, the LCSD Transportation Center contacts local law enforcement to ask for a patrol in that specific area.
The LCSD Transportation Department considers student safety its top concern and bus drivers receive regular training regarding safety procedures, especially in regards to loading and unloading students at bus stops. Students are constantly reminded that their cell phones and ear buds should not be used when entering or exiting the bus so that they can pay attention to their surroundings. And they should always watch and listen for a signal from the bus driver to make sure that it is safe to proceed.
Drivers also should keep an eye out for children walking through neighborhoods and waiting at bus stops. Please be alert to your surroundings and drive slowly. We all know that children can be unpredictable and they may step into the road or cross the street without looking in both directions.
Parents and guardians are invaluable when it comes to reporting these incidents, and are encouraged to contact the Transportation Center (315-453-0287) or local law enforcement covering a specific street or neighborhood (Liverpool Police Department, Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department or the NYS Police) with a license plate number if they witness vehicles illegally passing a school bus. They also can continue to remind students to adhere to all safety procedures and to always look both ways when entering or exiting the bus or crossing the street.