Crackdown on drivers not stopping for school buses

Marcus Solis reports from White Plains
April 3, 2014 8:04:03 PM PDT
When you see the automated stop sign rolling out of a school bus, you're supposed to stop. But many people don't.

Now there's a crackdown in New York State, called Operation Safe Stop. And drivers who are caught will pay the price.

For officer Pete DeVito it was a busy day, writing summonses for an infraction that still occurs far too often.

Police departments across the state cracked down because when school buses open their doors and the stop sign swings out, cars on both sides of the street are required to stop.

"Got to remember that some kids are really small, kindergarten, first grade. They'll just jump off the bus and run across the street," said Officer DeVito.

In East Ramapo, 33,000 kids are bused every day. Two have been hit by cars in the last two years. School administrators and bus companies say the problem may be getting worse.

"I think a lot of it is distracted driving. Drivers aren't paying attention. They're on the phone, fiddling with the radio and they don't see the reds and yellows," said Dawne Dennis of Student Bus Company.

The penalties are severe: a $250 fine for the first offense, 5 points on your license and possibly 30 days in jail. The reason is simple.

"They're our future, why would you put them in jeopardy, period?", said Denise Mentrasti of the East Ramapo Central School District.

"We've measured it, and it usually takes only 30 seconds for a youth to get safely off the bus and onto the sidewalk," said White Plains Police Commissioner Dave Chong.

Which is why enforcement efforts like Operation Safe Stop will continue to remind drivers to come to a stop.