(NYAPT’s media release)
The New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) brought together a statewide coalition of school transportation officials, school administrators, parent advocates, industry representatives, and law enforcement officials today to remind drivers that, after a six month absence, yellow school buses will be back on the road and that in order to get kids to school as safely as possible, everyone is required to stop for a stopped school bus.
Harold Nicholson, President of the New York Association for Pupil Transportation said, “Schools will open soon across New York State after nearly six months of shut down due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. It has been awhile, but once again, the familiar yellow school bus will be seen on our streets and roads picking up and dropping off school children. We ask motorists to be especially mindful of the fact our school buses will be out in full force and we remind you that you must stop for stopped school buses with red lights flashing.”
At an event held at the South Colonie Central School District Transportation Center in Colonie, NY, NYAPT was joined by Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple; Paul Overbaugh, State Director of Pupil Transportation at New York State Education Department; Aubrey Feldman, Child Passenger Safety Program Coordinator at the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee; Kyle Belokopitsky, Executive Director of the New York State PTA; Mike Sweeney, Traffic Safety Educator at Hudson Valley AAA; Paul Daniels from the New York Bus Distributors Association; and Christopher Robilotti, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources for South Colonie CSD.
The group reminded motorists that the New York State Vehicle and Traffic law requires all vehicles to come to a full stop when approaching a school bus stopped with red lights flashing. The group also explained how they have jointly been working together to tackle the unique challenges posed by COVID-19. School districts have been working diligently to develop and implement new cleaning and social distancing procedures, based on guidelines proved by the CDC and New York State Department of Health, to keep children safe.
NYAPT President Nicholson further reminds the motoring public that “passing a stopped school bus is not only against the law, it endangers the lives of students who we are entrusted to protect. Give your full attention to driving safely especially near school buses. A child’s life depends on you to do the right thing. Stop for stopped school buses with red lights flashing!”
Paul Daniels, representing the New York School Bus Distributors Association said, “Our members are proud to be a part of one of New York’s largest public-private partnerships comprising school districts, private transportation providers, and school bus distributors. In everything we do, safety is our top priority. So while we work to provide state-of-the-art school busses to keep our children safe, we need the help of the public to make sure they are following all the vehicle and traffic laws that are designed to avoid accidents and protect our children throughout the entire school year.”
Additionally, as noted above, the New York State Vehicle and Traffic law requires all vehicles to come to a full stop when approaching a school bus stopped with red lights flashing. Those lights indicate that a child is either boarding or disembarking a school bus. New York state law prohibits the passing of a school bus that is stopped with red lights flashing regardless of your direction of travel, or even if there is a multi-lane or divided highway. The penalties for a first-time offense include a fine from $250 to $400, five points on your license and the possibility of 30 days in jail. A second conviction within three years will result in a $600 to $750 fine and up to 180 days in jail; while three or more convictions will result in a fine from $750 to $1,000, mandatory revocation of your driver’s license and up to 180 days in jail.
The newly approved stop arm camera law, which is in effect in counties and cities across our state, also automatically levies fines to the owner of any vehicle that passes a stopped school bus with red lights flashing. Those fines are $250 for first violation up to $300 for subsequent violations.
NYAPT noted that the 2.3 million children who ride school buses to and from school every day in New York State are driven by qualified and well-trained school bus drivers. School children are travelling to school and back home again on routes that are carefully planned for safety. School buses are maintained at the highest of standards and school transportation officials are doing their best to keep kids safe when they are on and near the school bus.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, students are 70 times safer riding a school bus to school versus a private car. See www.nhtsa.gov