Skip to main content

Start New School Year with Kindness and School Bus Safety Awareness

Published: 9/7/2021

For More Information Contact:

Colleen Pillus, Communications Director

(845) 486-2000

Poughkeepsie … As children throughout Dutchess County head back to school this week for the start of the year, Dutchess County Sheriff Adrian “Butch” Anderson and County Executive Marc Molinaro offer important reminders for students, families and motorists for a safe and healthy school year including school bus safety and compassion to all.

With school buses returning to the roadways, it is important that drivers exercise caution and follow the rules for school bus safety.  Sheriff Anderson said, “Back to school means the return of buses and students on the road. It is important that all drivers watch for pedestrians, follow all safety driving laws, and eliminate driving distractions to keep our students protected on their way to and from school. Let’s do our part to start this school year off right and keep our community’s children safe.”

In addition to imploring motorists to be safe and courteous on the roads, County Executive Molinaro also urges all to be supportive of each other throughout the school year, building a community that embraces all students and supports their scholastic and social well-being.

County Executive Molinaro said, “With students returning to classrooms, many after a long hiatus away, it is important we all show empathy and understanding for one another. Children are excited to be returning to classrooms and engaging with friends, let’s together provide them a strong sense of community, where students feel comfortable and excited to reach their academic goals.” 

The first step the community can take for a safe school year is providing students with a worry-free commute to and from school. To accommodate this, motorists are encouraged 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 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 New York, and the penalties are severe. 
  • When the lights on the bus are yellow, it means 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 for children arriving late for the bus who 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.

Safety is the responsibility of students and parents as well as drivers. 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 eye 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.