Exclusive ride-along targeting Ramapo drivers who pass school buses

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Marcus Solis has more from Ramapo.

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday announced the launch of an annual enforcement and public education campaign aimed at motorists who pass stopped school buses.

State and local law enforcement agencies from across the state will participate in "Operation Safe Stop," with a focus on ticketing drivers passing school buses that are stopped and flashing their red lights.

Eyewitness News reporter Marcus Solis got an exclusive ride-along with officers kicking off the campaign.

"Operation Safe Stop has played a critical role in raising awareness and urging motorists to pay attention to the road and abide by the law," Cuomo said. "With this campaign, we can help protect the safety of our children and remind motorists that they must remain vigilant while driving around school buses."

Authorities say that last year, 95 police agencies participated in the enforcement campaign, many of them for the first time. Their combined efforts produced 859 tickets for passing stopped school buses and 1,547 tickets for other moving violations.

Police issue tickets for passing school buses every day of the school year, but the annual enforcement effort is meant to place a spotlight on the need for drivers to stop on red when kids are ahead.

The New York Association for Pupil Transportation conducts a survey once a month of bus drivers asking how often they are passed while stopped on one specific day. Based on their responses for the March survey, the association estimates that 54,962 drivers statewide passed a school bus that day.

Those numbers include 687 drivers who drove by on the passenger side of the bus, where students board and exit.

It is estimated that 10 million drivers pass school buses nationally every year, and passing vehicles cause an estimated two-thirds of fatalities when school buses are loading and unloading.

The fine ranges from a minimum of $250 for a first violation to a maximum of $1,000 for three violations in three years. Anyone convicted of three violations in three years will have his or her license revoked for a minimum of six months.

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