Concerns over drivers passing school buses illegally

Back to School

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — As the new school year begins an old concern has returned – drivers illegally passing school buses and putting students in danger.

As part of our News 8 Crime Tracker series of reports, we went to Irondequoit to see how officers are working to keep students safe.

Officer Jonathan Lawton with the Irondequoit Police Department said it’s called “passing the reds” and it happens all too often. Drivers zoom past school buses when they are stopped to pick up or drop off a student. “They definitely need to remember that when they see that flashing red stop sign, they need to stop,” he said.

Officer Lawton said drivers need to retrain their minds. Slow down for yellow lights. Stop at least 20 feet away for flashing red lights. “It’s multiple lanes that this covers,” he noted. “Even if the bus is going the opposite direction you’re going, you need to stop.”

Bus drivers are trained to observe vehicles passing illegally and file a report. In Irondequoit, officers conduct “Hug a Bus” details. “We’re following around those bus routes where the drivers have made complaints that we’ve had multiple cars go past us at this location or throughout the whole route, so we’ll have an officer follow that bus around and do enforcement at that time,” officer Lawton said.

A first conviction can result in a fine of $250-$400 and/or up-to 30 days in jail. Officer Lawton said drivers need to be alert, and so do students. “Make sure that if you’re crossing the road, you’re looking both ways and it doesn’t hurt to even double-check.”

Across New York, 2.3 million students are transported on 50-thousand buses annually. Officer Lawton said getting to school — and back home — safely is the priority. “We understand people might be running late to work but that’s no excuse to run the red lights.”

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