Everything You Need to Know About School Bus Safety - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Sep 22, 2023

Everything You Need to Know About School Bus Safety

September means back to school for many children here in New York State. Whether you are sending your children to school or simply sharing the roads with school buses on your morning commute, it’s important to be up-to-date on the current laws and expectations regarding school buses.

According to the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, a school bus is the safest way to transport children to and from school. However, while children are entering and exiting the bus, they become susceptible to serious injury. This is due to the high number of incidents involving motorists illegally passing stopped school buses. Based on a March 2018 study, bus drivers were passed 30,252 times illegally statewide by motorists on the day they were surveyed. This number is very alarming when considering the safety of our children.

Currently, under New York State’s Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1174, it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus when the large red lights located on the top of the bus are flashing. The flashing lights mean that the bus is picking up or dropping off students. This also applies on divided and multilane highways as well as on school grounds to ensure safety for all students. Motorists that violate this law can be faced with fines and jail time. The first time someone illegally passes a school bus, there is a fine that ranges from $250-$400, 5 points on their license, and/or possibility of 30 days of jail time. If the offense is carried out again, fines up to $1,000 and up to 180 days of jail time could be faced.

Here are some ways you can keep students safe on the roadways:

  • Never pass a stopped school bus, on the left or the right, when its red lights are flashing and its stop signs are out. The lights indicate that students are getting on or off the bus.
  • Be aware that school buses are required by law to stop at railroad crossings.
  • Do not allow yourself to drive distracted. Never use electronics while driving and be sure to keep your focus on the road and your surroundings. Consider setting your mobile device to its “do not disturb” setting.

General School Bus and School Zone Safety Tips for Motorists:

  • Use extra caution when school is opening in the morning and closing in the afternoon as students may be walking and crossing streets.
  • Always be alert. Students that are running late may dart into the street to catch their bus without looking first.
  • Be mindful of speed limits when in a school zone – especially when school is in session.

School Busy Safety Tips for Students:

  • While waiting for the bus driver’s instruction, be sure to stay back away from the curb.
  • Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before entering the road.
  • Be sure to look both ways before entering the street and always use caution when crossing the street to get on or off the bus.
  • Take precautions. Always be sure the bus driver can see you by making eye contact with them and waiting for the signal before crossing in front of the bus.
  • Never walk behind the bus.

We all play a part in ensuring the safety of students and motorists. Do your part to keep everyone safe by practicing school bus safety daily.