The back-to-school rush is upon us and this year, I want to remind everyone that while schedules may become hectic, keeping the safety of our students in mind should be our top priority. As students hop on and off the bus or walk home, it’s more important than ever for drivers to take care and be aware of pedestrians while behind the wheel.
In New York, it is illegal to pass a school bus that has stopped to unload or load students, indicated by flashing lights and an extended stop arm. Yet, it is estimated that 50,000 motor vehicles illegally pass New York State school buses every day. Every year, students senselessly lose their lives to reckless drivers who pass stopped school buses. Most frequently, bus-related tragedies involve children between the ages of 4 and 7 years old who are walking near a bus.
Drivers should maintain a greater distance from buses to allow time for sudden stops. Once stopped, a distance of at least 10 feet gives students plenty of space to safely enter and exit the bus.
While stopping for buses and driving safely around buses is critical, it’s equally important to slow down in school zones. School zones have reduced speed limits during school hours because of the frequent movement of young people in those areas. Slowing down and taking extra precautions during school hours saves lives. Most school zones in our community have speed limits of 20 mph or less. Studies have proven that only 5 percent of pedestrians hit by a vehicle at 20 mph suffer a fatality.
To greater ensure the safety of students, we must all adhere to patrol officers directing traffic and be extra careful when we reach crosswalks around school zones, playgrounds and parks. Drivers also need to stay alert in general as kids can be harder to spot than adults, and they should never honk at crosswalks or block intersections used for crossing.
Obeying traffic laws and following safety tips helps keep any pedestrian and driver safe. This school year, let’s remember to stay alert and cautious so we can make streets and school zones safer for students in our communities.
I wish everyone a happy and safe start to the school year. As always, I’m here to help. If you have any questions, please contact my office at StirpeA@nyassembly.gov or (315) 452-1115.