New Video Reminds Motorists of the Importance of Following the Rules to Keep Kids Safe
Governor Kathy Hochul today released a new video to underscore the importance of keeping New York State’s children safe as the school year gets underway. According to the New York Association for Pupil Transportation, an estimated 50,000 motorists pass stopped school buses with red lights flashing statewide each school day.
“As a parent and grandparent, there is nothing more important to me than the safety of New York’s children,” Governor Hochul said. “The fact remains that way too many motorists are still passing stopped school buses, in the process endangering children and other drivers. As New Yorkers, let’s collectively make it our goal to make this school year a safe one for all.”
The safest way to transport children to and from school is by school bus. Students are about 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a school bus instead of traveling by car, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, when walking to the bus, and while buses are loading and unloading students, kids become vulnerable to injury. This is largely due to an increasingly high frequency of motorists illegally passing stopped school buses.
In New York, it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus when the large red visual sign is in operation. Flashing lights mean the bus is picking up or discharging students. All motorists are required to stop whether approaching a stopped school bus from the front or overtaking it from the rear. This applies whenever their visual signal is in operation on any public highway, street, or private road. The Department of Motor Vehicles has also proposed changes to DMV regulations to increase driver violation points for passing a stopped school bus, as part of its efforts to address dangerous driving and take dangerous drivers off the road.
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “With school back in session, it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that all kids arrive at school and return home safely each and every day. Every driver should stay alert and look out for kids - especially in neighborhoods and around school buildings. I encourage all New Yorkers to heed the rules of the road to protect our children – the future of the Empire State.”
New York State DMV Commissioner and GTSC Chair Mark J.F. Schroeder said, “Every driver has a responsibility to our children to ensure they arrive safely at school each day. We count on drivers to do the right thing and come to a complete stop when approaching a school bus stopped with red lights flashing. Knowing that school buses are on the roads once again, building a few extra minutes into your commute each day and eliminating distractions inside your vehicle are just a few ways we can help keep students safe.”
New York State Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, “School is back in session, and while school buses are among the safest modes of transportation, students unfortunately still face many dangers during loading, unloading or even while walking to the bus stop. To help ensure a safe and successful school year, I encourage all motorists to make sure they are following the traffic safety laws in place that help keep our children safe, and I urge parents and caregivers to teach their children proper safety procedures and tips to follow while waiting for or riding on the school bus.”
Here are some other helpful tips for drivers:
- School buses make frequent stops, including at all railroad crossings. Be patient, slow down, and be prepared to stop for them.
- Yellow lights mean the bus is going to stop, so slow down.
- Look for children at bus stops and those walking to bus stops. Stay alert for children arriving late for the bus as they may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
- Look before you back out of your driveway or garage and watch for children walking in the street, especially where there are no sidewalks.
- Watch carefully for children in the morning and afternoon, especially when in the vicinity of school buildings.
- Stay alert. Never use electronic devices while driving and be sure to actively focus on the road and your surroundings.
It is also important for students to be prepared, whether it’s before they get on the bus, while they’re riding to school, or when they’re getting ready to get off the bus back at home.
Here are some tips for parents to go over with their kids:
- Be an early bird. Aim to be at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is schedule to arrive.
- Look carefully to the left, right, and left again if you must 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 waiting for the school bus, maintain a safe distance by standing at least six feet away from the curb when the bus approaches and away from the street.
- Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says it’s okay to step onto the bus.
- When exiting the bus, look to the rear of the bus to ensure no cars are coming. Take five giant steps straight out the bus door and out of the danger zone (areas around buses where the driver can’t see you).
Remain visible to the bus driver at all times and never walk behind the bus. If you need to cross in front of the bus, make sure you make eye contact with the driver and wait for the driver to signal you before you cross. For more information on school bus safety, click here.