The New York Association for Pupil Transportation said data from its latest monthly, one-day count of motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses can no longer be ignored by lawmakers, the media or the public.
“Knowing that 40,000 or more motorists disregarded the law and showed a disregard for the lives of our children is frightening and frustrating to us as school bus safety professionals,” said Lori Ann Savino, NYAPT president and Jericho Public Schools director of transportation. “We do everything we can to ensure the safety of our children. All we ask motorists to do is stop for the bus when those red lights are flashing.”
Thirty-two districts and 1,086 school bus drivers statewide participated in the Nov. 21 count. The report indicated that the participating buses, which account for about 2 percent of the state’s total fleet, were passed a total of 883 times while loading or unloading students, including 32 occurrences on the right, passenger-loading side of the bus.
NYAPT estimated that, based upon 50,000 buses operating statewide, the total rate of illegal passing incidents was roughly 40,654, with 1,479 passes on the right side. Those figures represent the most NYAPT has gauged since it began holding the monthly, voluntary survey about year ago.
The reported incidents represented an 8-percent spike from the October count of 37,023 illegal passings, with 1,078 on the right side. NYAPT’s “Count Day” program averaged 29,533 illegal passes per day for the 2015-2016 school year, including a record high of 36,857 in May.
“This is a time for action,” said Peter Mannella, NYAPT’s executive director. “We need to gain the commitment of the public, of our parents and school partners to increase awareness of the rules of the road and of school bus safety. We need our federal, state and local public officials to make statements about and address this problem.”