Back to School Safety

BINGHAMTON, NY - As we come into the school year, Broome County motorists need to be extra cautious on the roads. The streets are now filling up with school buses and sidewalks with children. Parents and motorists have a responsibility to help ensure the safety of our child pedestrians by being conscientious drivers and abiding by all traffic laws on the road.

According to the New York State’s Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, an estimated 50,000 motor vehicles illegally pass New York State school buses every day. It is illegal and very dangerous to pass a stopped school bus when the large red lights located on the top of the bus are flashing or when the bus extends their stop signal arm. This includes buses that are on the opposite sides of divided highways, on multiple roadways, in parking lots, and on school grounds in front of school entrances. 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 $250.00 but could be as much as $400.00 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. To avoid hitting a child or receiving a ticket here are some quick tips to remember:

  • Flashing lights mean the bus is picking up or discharging students
  • Drivers must stop whether you are approaching the school bus from the front or overtaking it from the rear
  • Watch carefully for children near school buildings, in areas where school buses are traveling or where there are signs for school zones or bus stops.

The NYSGTSC states that approximately 5,900 pedestrians are killed by automobiles every year and 84,000 suffer nonfatal injuries. Almost 1/3 of these victims are children under the age of 15. This is because young children under the age of 10 do not carry the same traffic skills as adults. Children are short which makes it difficult for them to see motorists and motorists to see them. A child’s peripheral vision is 1/3 narrower than an adults, making it impossible for a child to see approaching traffic as quickly as an adult can. Children often have difficulty judging a car’s speed and distance. Children also have the misconception that if they can see the driver, then the driver can see them. Because of their underdeveloped skills, children at this age need the help and guidance of adults, especially crossing guards and conscious drivers. It is not uncommon to see drivers disregarding crossing guards while on the road and speeding through school zones. Even though crossing guards have no arrest powers and cannot write tickets, drivers must still comply with their traffic signals just as they would with any traffic sign or officer. And don’t forget a little slower speed can make a world of difference. Drivers need to be extra careful driving through school zones. A child’s risk of being killed when hit by a vehicle traveling 30mph is about 40%. So keep our kids safe and just please slow down!