Operation Safe Stop:cracking down on drivers illegally passing school buses

Local News

It’s illegal to pass a school bus while it’s red lights are flashing, yet thousands of people still do it.
In fact it’s estimated that 50,000 cars pass school buses across New York state and break the law every day.

“I personally see it, it happens every single day just in our organization. It’s very scary for the kids it’s scary for us,” said Gary Woodcock, Ridge Road Express Inc. General Manager. 

Gary Woodcock has been driving school buses for 34 years and says he has seen too many close calls.

“We were stopped, child was getting off the bus another driver passed us from behind on the right side and the kid had dive for the ditch in order to stay alive,” said Woodcock.

As part of Operation Safe Stop members of law enforcement are reinforcing the law this morning and afternoon, specifically hitting bus routes that have a history of illegal passing complaints.

We went for a ride along on a Grand Island school bus route.

“The bus drivers report that it’s happening very frequently on their bus runs it’s just a matter of us actually being present and aware when that happens,” said Amy Klimowicz, Erie County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant, Crash Investigation.

Under state law, drivers are supposed to stop when the school bus red lights are flashing. This applies to parking lots, school grounds, multiple lane roadways, and on the opposite side of a divided highway.

Klimowicz says many drivers don’t stop because they’re in a rush or just not paying attention.

“Almost every person on the roadway is using their phone, eating, doing makeup, doing something that it is distracting them from what is in front of them and driving their vehicle,” said Klimowicz.

News 4 didn’t catch any drivers breaking the law this morning, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still happen all the time.

If you’re caught illegally passing a school bus while its red lights are flashing you could face a fine of up to $400 (for first conviction), 5 points on your license, and even possibly 30 days in jail.

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