Thursday, 24 October 2013 00:00
As part of National School Bus Safety Month, James Popkin, Great Neck Public Schools transportation supervisor, calls attention to the illegal and dangerous practice by motorists of passing a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing and Stop arm extended.
When a school bus is stopped with its red lights flashing and Stop arm extended, this is a sign to motorists that children are about to get on or off the school bus. When motorists fail to stop for such school buses, they present a real-time danger to students who ride our school buses, and they are committing a serious crime.
Unfortunately, in New York State, motorists illegally pass school buses some 50,000 times each day, according to highway safety and school bus safety advocates. Perhaps more concerning is motorists illegally passing stopped school buses on the right (or passenger) side of the school bus. This presents an extreme danger for our children who are boarding and departing the bus from that side of the vehicle.
New York State Law (Sec. 1174/Vehicle and Traffic Law) requires that all motorists come to a full stop when approaching a school bus that has its red flashing lights engaged. This law applies to vehicles approaching from either direction and whether on a two-lane road (such as Baker Hill Road) or a multi-lane road (such as Community Drive). Fines for violating this law start at $250 for the first violation and rise to $1,000 for the third violation, plus points on licenses and possible imprisonment for each and every violation.
Mr. Popkin said that our school bus drivers are trained to the highest standards, our buses are inspected and maintained according to rigorous federal and state specifications, and bus routes are planned to be as efficient and safe as possible. The school district does its part to ensure the safety of all students transported on our buses, but it cannot make motorists stop for stopped school buses. “This is simply not acceptable,” said Mr. Popkin. “It’s time for those who drive motor vehicles to act responsibly, and legally, when approaching a stopped school bus.”