Thursday, April 3, has been designated as Operation Safe Stop Day. Operation Safe Stop seeks to promote school bus safety through awareness and enforcement efforts throughout New York state.
The Madison County Sheriff’s Office, along with other law enforcement agencies throughout Madison County and New York state, will be out in force this day to enforce any violations by motorists passing any stopped school bus.
Operation Safe Stop is a cooperative project supported by the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, New York State Education Department, New York Association for Pupil Transportation, New York State School Bus Contractors Association, the student transportation industry and state, county, city and local law enforcement agencies.
According to the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, an estimated 50,000 motor vehicles illegally pass New York state school buses every day. Between 2005 and 2011, 188 pedestrians under the age of 19 were injured and two were killed by motorists passing stopped school buses.
It is illegal and very dangerous to pass a stopped school bus when the large red lights located on the top of the bus are flashing or when the bus extends their stop signal arm. This includes buses that are on the opposite sides of divided highways, on multiple roadways, in parking lots, and on school grounds in front of school entrances.
Passing a stopped school bus under these conditions could result in a fine. A minimum fine in New York State for a first conviction is $250 but could be as much as $400 and possibly up to 30 days of imprisonment. The only exception to this law is if the bus driver or a police officer signals that you may pass.
Important tips to remember:
• Flashing lights mean the bus is picking up or discharging students;
• Drivers must stop whether approaching a school bus from the front or overtaking it from the rear;
• Watch carefully for children near school buildings, in areas where school buses are traveling or where there are signs for school zones or bus stops;
Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley points out that “our efforts will result in increased public awareness, which can reduce this aggressive driving behavior and help us reach our common goal: safe transportation to and from school for our children.”