‘Operation Safe Stop’; Deterring drivers from passing stopped school buses

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ALBANY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — As districts work to bring more students back to the classroom, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) is working to deter drivers from illegally passing stopped school buses.

GTSC is launching its 17th annual “Operation Safe Stop” educating drivers and law enforcement is stepping up patrols to crackdown on drivers who pass school buses that are stopped and flashing their red lights.

Surveys conducted by the New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) and GTSC show approximately 50,000 drivers illegally pass school buses each day in New York State.

“It is not only illegal but also extremely dangerous to pass a stopped school bus that is flashing its red lights,” said GTSC Chair and DMV Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder. “Children and their parents should feel confident that every child will be safe getting on and off the school bus. They count on drivers to do the right thing by stopping and waiting. That is why there is zero tolerance for anyone who violates the law. We will continue to support Operation Safe Stop to help educate motorists and ensure the safety of children.”

David Christopher, Executive Director of NYAPT, said, “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 school 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 all motorists to drive responsibly.” 

During the last campaign, which occurred May 2, 2019, law enforcement throughout the state issued 12,007 tickets for vehicle and traffic law violations, including 693 tickets for passing stopped school buses.

Full breakdown here:

ViolationNumber of Tickets
Passing Stopped School Bus693
Distracted Driving699
Move Over Law67
Other Violations8,035
Impaired Driving177
Seatbelt438
Speeding1,898
Grand Total12,007

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. 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’s 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’s 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 https://trafficsafety.ny.gov/.

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