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Stiffer penalties needed for school bus scoffers

February 20, 2014
Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

The rules governing stopped school buses are pretty simple.

When a bus stops, red lights flash and a stop sign swings out from the driver's side of the bus. When that happens, cars behind the bus and cars approaching the bus must stop until the sign retracts and the lights stop flashing.

There have always been a few people for whom this delay was simply too much to bear, but it seems that number is increasing. There have been 53 complaints of drivers passing school buses with their red lights flashing in roughly a 30-day period, according to Bob Gilkinson, Cassadaga Valley Central School transportation supervisor. All but eight of those complaints have been on Route 60, some at speeds of up to 60 miles an hour.

It seems people realize they can pass stopped school buses with no fear of getting caught. It would simply cost too much to post enough police cars on enough roads in Chautauqua County to mount an effective deterrent. Law enforcement personnel have told Gilkinson that bus drivers should get a description of the vehicle and the vehicle's license plate number, a task that, frankly, is impossible for a bus driver when they're being passed at 60 miles an hour with 40 to 60 children on their bus.

The New York State Association for Pupil Transportation has backed legislation that would amend Section 1174 of the state Vehicle and Traffic Law allowing violations to proceed from evidence based on a camera on a school bus or an affidavit from a school bus driver attesting to an offending vehicle's license plate number. It would also allow for a 60-day suspension of a person's driver's license for multiple violations over a 10-year period.

Both are ideas that might provide a way to punish those who violate a basic rule of the road and both should be approved by the state Legislature.



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