Ensuring a Safe Back-to-School: Rockland County’s Vital Tips for School Bus Safety

It’s time to get ready for the new school year and time to think about school bus safety. Every day in New York State, an estimated 50,000 drivers illegally pass stopped school buses, putting the lives and safety of children at risk.

To make the roads safer for our children, Rockland County has partnered with the company BusPatrol to launch a violator-funded business model allowing districts to equip school buses with cameras on the bus stop-arms at no-cost. Six school districts have officially opted into the Rockland County School Bus Safety program including Pearl River, Nanuet, North Rockland, Clarkstown, Suffern, and Nyack. Drivers caught by those cameras illegally passing activated stop-arms on school buses will then be issued the following penalties by mail: 1st Violation $250, 2nd Violation $275, and 3rd Violation $300 (within an 18-month period).

Never pass a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing – this means that students are getting on or off the bus. Traffic approaching from either direction must stop before reaching the bus. Not only will you make the roads much safer for our students, but you will avoid a hefty fine. Remember, too, that yellow lights mean the bus is going to stop, so slow down! We all have a responsibility to make sure students make it to and from school safely,” said County Executive Ed Day.

The Rockland County Department of Health reminds all drivers and students to follow these additional school bus safety tips from the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

School bus safety tips for drivers:

  • Be alert and watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood. Look for children at bus stops, those running to bus stops, and children who cross in front of the bus when the bus is stopped. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
  • School buses make frequent stops and typically travel at slower speeds. Be patient, slow down, and be prepared to stop for them. School buses must stop at railroad crossings by law, so be ready to stop at railroad crossings if driving behind a school bus.
  • Be distraction-free. Never use electronic devices while driving; actively focus on the road and your surroundings.

School bus safety tips for students:

  • Arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus arrives. Wait for the bus at least ten feet, five giant steps, away from the curb. The bus stop is not a place to run or play.
  • When the school bus arrives, wait until it comes to a complete stop, the door opens, and the driver says it’s okay to get on. Use the handrails to avoid falling.
  • When getting off the bus, take five giant steps straight out the bus door and out of the danger zone (areas around buses where the driver can’t see you). Make sure you make eye contact with the driver and wait for the driver to signal you before you cross in front of the bus. Never walk behind a school bus or bend down near or under the bus. Don’t go back for anything you have left on the bus.
  • Listen to your bus driver in case there are any special instructions for your bus ride. Be sure to sit quietly in your seat and limit distractions.

For more information about school bus safety, visit the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee website https://trafficsafety.ny.gov/tips-motorists-and-students, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles website https://dmv.ny.gov/more-info/school-bus-safety, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/school-bus-safety.

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