ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — National School Bus Safety Week runs from October 16 to 20. The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) uses the week to remind drivers to stop and wait when they encounter a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing and stop sign extended.
“Illegally passing school buses is a chronic problem in our state that puts students in serious danger,” said DMV Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder. “Parents should not have to fear for their children’s safety because of a driver’s reckless behavior.”
In the Capital Region, school buses in some districts have equipped stop-arm cameras to catch drivers that pass the stopped buses. However, those cameras do not always deter cars from illegally passing the school buses.
In Albany County, the South Colonie Central School District, Bethlehem Central School District, and Guilderland Central School District have stop-arm cameras installed. South Colonie said they are still seeing a significant amount of cars passing the stopped school buses.
According to Albany County, over 6,100 tickets have been issued for 2023 so far between the three districts to drivers who passed a stopped school bus. For September alone, 667 tickets were issued. Additional area school districts that have stop-arm cameras installed include East Greenbush, Rensselaer, Schodack, Wynantskill, and Averill Park.
Earlier this year, Albany County launched an education campaign with CDTA to promote school bus safety on TV, the radio, and billboards around the county. In April, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said the number of drivers not stopping for school buses is a major problem.
According to the DMV, drivers should always stop for school buses when the red lights are flashing and the stop sign is out even if they are on the opposite side of divided highways, on multiple-lane roadways, in parking lots, or on school grounds. If the yellow lights are flashing, drivers should be prepared to stop.
Drivers who unlawfully pass a stopped school bus can be fined from a minimum of $250 for a first violation to a maximum of $1,000 for three violations in three years, said the DMV. Penalties also include points on a driver’s license and a license being revoked for a minimum of six months.