State officials urge safety around school buses

With the start of the school year upon us, Herkimer Central School joins traffic safety officials and law enforcement to remind motorists to use extra caution and stop for school buses when the flashing lights are on.

“Everyone just needs to slow down, use caution, pay attention and stop for school buses,” said Terri Egan, executive deputy commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, during a media conference last week. “It’s not an option; it’s the law.”

In 2014 there were close to 2,000 crashes involving school buses in New York state, Egan said, “and just about every one of them was avoidable. Most were the result of driver inattentiveness or distraction.”

According to the Governor’s Traffic Safety Commission, an estimated 50,000 motor vehicles illegally pass New York state school buses every year. The first-time fine for illegally passing a school bus is a $250 to $400 fine, 5 points on your license, and/or possibly 30 days in jail.

When approaching a school bus, you must:

  • Slow down: Flashing yellow lights warn that the bus is about to stop. You should begin to slow your vehicle and prepare to stop.
  • Stop: From either direction, even on divided highways – when a school bus is stopped with its red lights flashing.
  • Proceed: Only when the red lights are turned off and bus is again moving, or when waved on by driver or police officer.
  • Be aware: Children may be approaching a stopped school bus from any direction.
  • Remember: School buses may not turn right on red while transporting students.