Operation Safe Stop: School bus safety through awareness and enforcement efforts

Thursday, April 27, 2017, has been designated as Operation Safe Stop Day. Operation Safe Stop seeks to promote school bus safety through awareness and enforcement efforts throughout New York State.

The Madison County Sheriff’s Office, along with other Law Enforcement agencies throughout Madison County and New York State will be out in force this day to enforce any violations by motorists passing any stopped school bus or speeding in school zones.

New York State transports 2.3 million children with more than 50,000 school buses to school every year. School buses are most likely to be on the road during a three-hour window in the morning and a three-hour window in the afternoon. These three-hour windows are scheduled where, for the most part, they are at the same location at about the same time each school day. School buses are noted for typically traveling at lower rates of speed and making frequent stops.

When a school bus is preparing to stop, the driver will activate the yellow flashing lights at approximately 300 feet before the stop. At the stop, the vehicle will be put into neutral or park with the parking brake set to open the door and activate the red flashing lights with the stop arm/stop sign being extended and flashing.

State law requires motorists to stop for school buses that are receiving or discharging passengers. The driver must also stop if the school bus has another bus in front of it to receive or discharge passengers.

A driver of a vehicle must stop when they encounter a school bus in the process of loading or unloading students from either direction:

  • on a public highway
  • on multiple lane roads
  • including opposite sides of divided highways
  • on a public street
  • on a private road
  • in a parking lot
  • even on school property

Tips for sharing the road with school buses:

  • Remember buses make frequent stops. Be prepared to stop for them.
  • Never pass a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing on the right or left.
  • Watch for children who cross in front of the bus when the bus is stopped.
  • Look for children at bus stops and those running to bus stops.
  • By law school buses are required to stop at railroad crossings.

Passing a stopped school bus under these conditions could result in a fine. A minimum fine in New York State for a first conviction is $250 but could be as much as $400 and possibly up to 30 days of imprisonment. The only exception to this law is if the bus driver or a police officer signals that you may pass.

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