The Clarkstown Police Department and local school districts will partner on Thursday as part of the annual New York State Operation Safe Stop. Officers will be stationed throughout Clarkstown to promote bus safety and draw awareness to the dangers of vehicles passing stopped school buses that have children getting on or off. There will be a visible police presence during the morning and afternoon when buses are transporting school students.
According to the state web site, "During "Safe Stop," police officers are on board school buses and in marked and unmarked patrol units on selected bus routes that have a history of illegal passing complaints."
“Our children’s safety is an utmost priority,” said Clarkstown Police Chief Michael Sullivan. “Our goal of Operation Safe Stop is to bring awareness to the dangers of passing a stopped school bus. Violators will be stopped.”
New York State law requires motorists to stop for school buses that are receiving or discharging passengers and violators can be fined or imprisoned. Passing a school bus with its red lights flashing can result in a fine from $250 to $1,000, five points on a driver’s license and possible imprisonment. Jail terms range from up to 30 days for the first offense and up to 180 days for a third conviction in three years.
New York State transports 2.3 million children in more than 50,000 school buses every year. School buses are typically on the road during a three-hour period in the morning and a three-hour window in the afternoon. During these timeframes school buses are often at the same location at approximately the same time each school day. Drivers are also reminded that school buses usually travel at lower rates of speed and make frequent stops.
There is plenty of notice for drivers when a school bus is preparing to stop. The driver will activate the yellow flashing lights about 300 feet before the location. At the stop, the driver puts the school bus into neutral or park with the parking brake then the door opens and red flashing lights are activated. The stop arm/stop sign gets extended and flashes.
Drivers in both directions must stop when there is a school bus loading or unloading students. The law requires drivers to stop when there are one or more buses stopped on a public highway, public street, private road, parking lot, multiple lane roads, opposite sides of divided highways or on school property or discharge passengers.
Tips for sharing the road with school buses:
- Remember buses make frequent stops. Be prepared to stop.
- Never pass a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing on the right or left.
- Watch for children who cross in front of the bus when the bus is stopped.
- Look for children at bus stops and those running to bus stops.
- By law school buses are required to stop at railroad crossings
Operation Safe Stop is funded through a grant sponsored by the NYS Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC).