Poughkeepsie… As children across the county head back to school next week, Dutchess County Sheriff Adrian “Butch” Anderson and County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro join with the Dutchess County Traffic Safety Board to remind motorists, parents and students to exercise caution and follow the rules for school bus safety. Drivers are urged to always use caution and drive carefully, but especially during the school year when students are coming and going from school buses and bus stops.
Sheriff Anderson said, “Please always follow the law and use caution while out on the roadways so that our kids will be safe going to and from school. The safety of our young people should be a top priority for all motorists, and it is vital that everyone do their part to help our youth have a safe and happy school year.”
County Executive Molinaro said, “All of us on the road play a role in ensuring our children arrive to and from school safely each day. Obeying the rules of the road, watching for pedestrians, being respectful of other motorists, and driving while free of distractions are simple steps motorists can take to help make our roadways safe for students. There’s no better time than now to undertake such driving practices and help our children have a safe school year from the start.”
Motorists are asked to pay close attention and remember the following:
- Coming to a complete stop is required by law of drivers approaching a school bus with its red lights on. This is required when approaching from either direction and also on divided highways, multiple lane roadways, parking lots and on school grounds.
- The Sheriff’s Office has a strict zero tolerance for those passing a stopped school bus, and those pulled over for it will be ticketed.
- Passing a stopped school bus is a serious offense in NYS, and the penalties are severe.
- When the lights on the bus are yellow, it means that the bus is about to stop. In this situation drivers are advised to slow down and prepare to stop for the bus; do not try to get past the bus before it stops.
- Be aware that in some cases children may be standing near the edge of the roadway waiting for the bus; drive slowly and use extra caution in these areas.
- When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or riding a bicycle to school.
- Be alert that children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
- Always avoid cell phone use while driving.
- Yield to students in crosswalks.
- Obey the speed limit, particularly near schools.
- Look for students walking when you are turning, backing up or driving at night for after-school activities.
Students should pay special attention to school bus safety in and around school zones, and near bus stops. School children and parents should take notice of the following bus safety tips:
- Children should get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive, to avoid rushing.
- When waiting for the school bus, children should wait at the bus stop, and stand back five giant steps from the curb.
- Children need to avoid returning to the bus for any items left behind.
- Remind children to never bend down near the bus.
- If a child needs to cross the street in front of the bus, he/she should make contact with the driver and wait for the signal that it is safe to cross in front of the bus. Children should always look both ways before crossing the street.
- Behind the bus is the “danger zone.” Remind children to never go behind the bus where the driver can’t see.
- If walking to school, only cross the streets at marked crosswalks and intersections; use pedestrian pushbuttons; avoid cell phone use and be visible.
More information on bus safety rules (.pdf) can be viewed online.