Press Release 04-27-2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 27, 2022
GTSC ANNOUNCES 18th ANNUAL ‘OPERATION SAFE STOP’ TO PREVENT
THE PASSING OF STOPPED SCHOOL BUSES
Stopped School Buses Are Passed Illegally an Estimated 50,000 Times Per School Day
The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) today announced that Operation Safe Stop — an enforcement and education campaign designed to deter drivers from illegally passing stopped school buses — will be held tomorrow, Thursday, April 28. Law enforcement throughout the state will be participating. Drivers who pass school buses that are stopped and flashing their red lights will be ticketed. Surveys conducted by the New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) in partnership with GTSC show that approximately 50,000 motorists illegally pass school buses statewide each school day.
“There is zero tolerance in New York State for drivers who pass a stopped school bus, and that is why education and enforcement campaigns like Operation Safe Stop are critical,” said GTSC Chair and DMV Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder. “Every child deserves to be safe as they get on and off the bus, and drivers have the responsibility to stop and wait. We are proud of our continuing support of this campaign to keep children safe and help educate motorists.”
Since 2003, NYAPT and GTSC have collaborated on this enforcement and education initiative. The campaign is supported through grants from GTSC and funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Executive Director of NYAPT David Christopher said, “School children have a lot on their minds during the school day and traveling safely to and from school shouldn’t be one of them. We remind motorists to slow down, don’t be distracted and watch for school buses that are stopped with red lights flashing to pick up or drop off students at their bus stops. Don’t be one of the 50,000 drivers in New York who threaten a child’s life each day by illegally passing a stopped school bus. Remember, Stop on Red, our kids are ahead.”
Drivers must stop whether they are approaching the school bus from the front or overtaking it from the rear. Motorists must always stop for flashing red lights, even on divided and multilane highways and on school grounds. GTSC’s website includes helpful information for school bus safety that can be viewed here. GTSC also provides tips for motorists and students:
Tips for Motorists
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.
When school is opening in the morning and closing in the afternoon, the area around the school is very busy and crowded. There will be many children using the crosswalk. Car drivers, bikers and in-line skaters must stop to allow people in the crosswalk to cross the street.
Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood.
- Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
Tips for Students
- Look carefully to the left, right and left again if you have to cross the street. When school is opening in the morning and closing in the afternoon, the area around the school is very busy and crowded.
- When you are waiting for the school bus, you should wait at the bus stop and stand well back from the curb.
- When you get off the bus:
- Look to the rear of the bus before you step off the bottom step. Our friends at the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute tell us that more and more motorists are passing stopped school buses on the right shoulder - where the door is.
- Take 5 giant steps straight out the bus door and out of the danger zone (areas around buses where the driver can’t see you).
- Make sure you make eye contact with the driver and wait for the driver to signal you before you cross in front of the bus.
- Never go back for anything you have left on the bus.
- Never bend down near or under the bus.
- Your school district probably has a school bus behavior policy. Your bus driver’s number one interest is your safety so it is important to listen to your bus driver in case there are any special instructions for your bus ride. Be sure to sit quietly in your seat and limit distractions.
The fine for passing a stopped school bus ranges from a minimum of $250 for a first violation to a maximum of $1,000 for three violations in three years. Jail time is up to 30 days for a first violation and up to 180 days for a second and third violation in three years. If you are convicted of three of these violations in three years, your driver license will be revoked for a minimum of six months. Conviction of unlawfully passing a school bus while it’s stopped to get or let off passengers will result in five points on a driver license in addition to the penalty imposed by the court.
Combined with enforcement campaigns, GTSC coordinates various traffic safety activities throughout the year, and supports ongoing initiatives to improve pedestrian, motorcycle and bicycle safety. The GTSC also sponsors critical training for law enforcement, provides resources for teen drivers and their parents, and promotes seatbelt use statewide.