BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It’s back to school and than means school buses are back on our roads.
And this year, motorists will get more than a reminder about school bus safety — they could get fines as well, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Wednesday.
Recently, there was a heart-stopping close call in Brentwood. A child was caught on camera nearly being hit by a driver that illegally passed a stopped school bus.
Most school buses in Suffolk County are now equipped with cameras on their stop sign arms, and hefty fines await those who ignore them.
“It’s apparent that some people don’t care. They value their time and not being late to where they are going more than the lives of these school children, which is disturbing,” Suffolk County Police Acting Commissioner Stuart Cameron said.
Suffolk has already issued thousands of tickets and soon Nassau County will, too. School districts have been offered the option of the cameras, after a pilot program in East Meadow identified 362 drivers illegally passing in just one month.
“It’s staggering and it’s highly alarming that we would have so many motorists that would be passing through this bus arm. It’s really a miracle that we didn’t have any casualties,” Nassau County Legislator Siela Bynoe said.
An estimated 50,000 motorists illegally pass stopped school buses ever day in New York state, often repeat offenders who some believe will get the message if it comes with a fine.
“When you see those red lights, stop, because that means a student is either getting on the bus or getting off the bus and that is, in fact, the most dangerous part of the school ride or the bus ride for children,” said David Christopher, director of the New York Association for Pupil Transportation.
That means coming to a full stop when approaching a school bus stopped with red lights flashing, regardless of what direction you are traveling or if it’s a divided or multi-lane highway.
Nassau’s program, as did Suffolk’s, extends a 60-day grace period with only warnings issued. After that, fines start at $250. Across the state, it’s now up to $1,000, with license points.
Police also advise teaching children to look both ways at the bus stop. Trusting youngsters expect adults to obey the rules.