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Passing a stopped school bus

April 9, 2010

Thursday, April 15 has been designated as Operation Safe Stop Day in New York state. Operation Safe Stop seeks to promote school bus safety through awareness and enforcement efforts throughout New York State.

Nearly every driver knows that it is against the law to pass a stopped school bus with red lights flashing, no matter what state you are driving in, including Canada. However, as incredible as it may seem, an estimated 50,000 motorists illegally pass New York state school buses every day. Every time a stopped school bus is passed while children are loading and unloading puts them at risk. This increased risk in the past has resulted in injury and the death of our children, our most precious cargo.

Ultimately, efforts to increase public awareness and education can reduce this dangerous driving behavior and help us reach our common goal: safe transportation of our children to and from school and school activities.

The law says:

It is illegal -and very dangerous - to pass a stopped school bus when the large red lights located on top of the bus are flashing. Flashing lights mean the bus is picking up or discharging students.

You must stop, whether you are approaching the school bus from the front or overtaking it from the rear.

In NY State, you must always stop for red flashing lights, even on divided and multilane highways and on school grounds, including school parking lots.

Fines for illegally passing a school bus range from $250 to $850, plus surcharges, and can include jail time from 30 to 180 days.

Remember: Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is going to stop. Slow down! Red lights mean students are getting on or off the bus. STOP! STOP! STOP!

Although Operation Safe Stop is only one day, you can expect extra heavy enforcement and zero tolerance of this law during the week of April 12.

For more articles and information on vehicle and traffic law and traffic safety, go to the Franklin County Web site at and use the department pull-down menu to find the Traffic Safety Board.

Know the law, and drive safely.

Dave Werner can be reached at



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