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Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro announced today Heather McCaffrey, of the Arlington Central School District, has been named the winner of the 15th annual Dutchess County School Bus Driver of the Year Award, recognizing her exemplary service and safety record. The award is part of the Dutchess County Traffic Safety Board’s efforts to promote school bus safety and is given in conjunction with the launch of the annual Operation Safe Stop Project.
Operation Safe Stop Education Enforcement Day will be Thursday, April 21, when state, county and local law enforcement agencies will shadow school buses to identify and ticket drivers who do not obey the flashing red lights on a stopped school bus. Law enforcement throughout the county will target enforcement efforts at what school transportation officials have identified as “hot spots,” where most violations typically occur.
County Executive Molinaro said, “There’s nothing more important than the safety of our children, and countless school bus drivers throughout Dutchess County take that responsibility seriously each day. Today, we honor the drivers who safely drive our children to and from school, thanking them for protecting their precious cargo from harm each day. We also remind all drivers to please stop when a school bus’s red lights are flashing, an extra moment that can save a child’s life.”
New York State Vehicle and Traffic law requires drivers to stop from either direction, even on a divided highway, any time a school bus’s red lights are flashing. Passing a school bus with red lights is not only dangerous, but it is illegal and punishable with fines ranging from $250 to $1,000; a motorist may also be assessed five points on his driver’s license, and penalties can include possible imprisonment (up to 30 days for first offense and 180 days for a third or subsequent conviction).
Mrs. McCaffrey, who has been employed by the Arlington Central School District for 29 years, was presented this morning with a commemorative plaque and honored as the School Bus Driver of the Year at the Operation Safe Stop kickoff press conference at Arlington High School.
Dutchess County Traffic Safety Board Administrator William C. Johnson said, “Mrs. McCaffrey is a model driver. She understands and embraces what it is to be a school bus driver – not just what it takes to drive a school bus. She has achieved an exceptional safety record over 29-plus years driving buses filled with students. Mrs. McCaffrey’s contributions to the Arlington district go way beyond her ability and passion to safely transport children. She is respected by supervisory staff and her peers, as well as the students and parents she has touched over the years.”
County Executive Molinaro said, “Every day, parents put their children on school buses and trust the bus driver to get their children to school and back home safely. Bus drivers bear a tremendous responsibility, and this award is a way for our community to thank these dedicated drivers for their commitment to our children’s safety. We congratulate Mrs. McCaffrey on her impressive safety record and thank her for her continued dedication to children.”
The Dutchess County Traffic Safety Board’s School Bus Driver of the Year award seeks to promote school bus safety through education and enforcement efforts. The annual award was initiated in 2002 to increase public awareness regarding school bus safety issues and to recognize school bus drivers who get children to and from school safely on a daily basis. School bus drivers are an integral part of the safe transportation of school children. Crashes and related injuries are prevented by these highly trained professionals’ experience, skill and daily performance.
County Legislator Angela Flesland said, “Parents don’t rely on bus drivers to simply deliver pupils promptly to and from school each day; they entrust their children’s lives to these devoted men and women, who take their commitment to safety very seriously. Dutchess County commends Mrs. McCaffrey and her fellow school bus drivers for the invaluable service they provide every day. Our children are protected from harm because of the dedication you give to your duty, and you make getting an education that much easier for these young students.”
The Dutchess County School Bus Driver of the Year Award represents a collaborative partnership with the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, the Mid-Hudson Transportation Supervisor’s Association the Dutchess County Traffic Safety Board, and the Culinary Institute of America.
The Dutchess County Traffic Safety Board is a coalition of law enforcement, education, health and service agencies, and individuals appointed by the County Executive who are committed to ensuring our streets, sidewalks, and residents remain safe.