Press Release - 05-02-2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, May 2, 2019
GOVERNOR’S TRAFFIC SAFETY COMMITTEE ANNOUNCES 16th ANNUAL ‘OPERATION SAFE STOP’ TO PREVENT THE PASSING OF STOPPED SCHOOL BUSES
The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) and New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) today announced that law enforcement will again be focused on deterring motorists from passing stopped school buses. “Operation Safe Stop” is an annual enforcement and public education campaign being held today, May 2, 2019. Drivers passing school buses that are stopped and flashing their red lights will be ticketed.
“Keeping our children safe on the road, whether they are traveling in a personal vehicle or getting on or off a school bus, is one of our highest priorities,” said Mark J.F. Schroeder, Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and Acting GTSC Chair. “Every motorist must be aware that they need to use caution when approaching a stopped bus and stop for school buses that have their lights flashing, even when the bus is in the school parking lot. Failure to do so can result in a senseless and preventable tragedy. Operation Safe Stop has played a critical role in raising awareness among motorists and keeping our children safe when they travel to and from school.”
GTSC and the New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) have collaborated on the enforcement and education initiative since October 2003. The campaign is supported through grants from GTSC and funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
NYAPT conducts a survey once a month of bus drivers asking how often they are passed while stopped on one specific day. Based on those surveys, the association estimates that more than 50,000 motorists pass stopped school buses with red lights flashing statewide each school day.
David Christopher, Executive Director of NYAPT, said, "Motorists passing stopped school buses with red lights flashing continues to be a serious safety issue for school children in our state. Motorists must take this matter seriously and drive without distraction and give due attention to stopped school buses. Students are in a vulnerable situation when boarding or disembarking from the bus and trust that motorists will stop. The goal of Operation Safe Stop is to educate motorists in an effort to end the illegal passing of stopped school buses. The lives of our school children depend on it."
During the 2018 crackdown, 2,191 police officers from 43 law enforcement agencies participated in the enforcement campaign. Their combined efforts produced 838 tickets for passing stopped school buses, and 2,814 tickets for other moving violations. Police also made 16 arrests for penal law violations, 47 arrests for aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and 3 arrests for driving while intoxicated or impaired by alcohol.
Acting New York State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett said, “As the school year begins to wind down and the weather gets nicer, it’s easy for motorists to get distracted. However, it is never acceptable to pass a school bus when its red lights are flashing. Protecting our children at all times, especially when they are getting on and off a school bus, should always be a top priority. Operation Safe Stop is an important reminder to all motorists to be alert on the roadways and obey the traffic laws. Ignoring the flashing red lights of a stopped school bus can result in tragic crashes. Our Troopers will be out along with our local law enforcement partners enforcing this law and violators will be ticketed. We ask motorists to do their part in helping us to ensure the safety of our children and prevent needless tragedies.”
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.
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. 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.
For more information about traffic safety in New York State, please visit the GTSC website at www.safeny.ny.gov.