New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law 1174(A) requires drivers to stop from either direction, even on a divided highway any time a school bus red lights are flashing. Flashing lights mean the bus is picking up or discharging students. Most school bus related deaths and injuries occur while children cross the street after being discharged from the bus, not in collisions that involve school buses. 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. Five points may be assessed to one’s driver’s license, and penalties can also include possible imprisonment (up to 30 days for the first offense and180 days for a third or subsequent conviction).
In accordance with §1174-a of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law, Dutchess County ("County") enacted Local Law No. 1 of 2020 ("Local Law"), which established a program to impose monetary liability on owners of vehicles for the failure of the driver to comply with §1174 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law when meeting a school bus exhibiting a red visual sign and stop-arm.
Under this program, the County is authorized to install and operate school bus photo violation monitoring systems on the exterior of school buses owned and operated by school districts within the County, provided that the school districts individually enter into agreements with the County for such installation and operation.
To speak to a representative about a stop-arm violation, contact the AlertBus Customer Contact Center at 1-877-504-7080.
The County has contracted with BusPatrol America, LLC (" BusPatrol") to implement the program. The technology, installation, and maintenance of all hardware and software included in the BusPatrol Student Safety Platform are provided to school districts at zero upfront cost. The program is funded by violators over a five-year term.
All school districts in Dutchess County now have access to advanced safety technology including AI-powered stop-arm cameras to deter motorists from illegally passing stopped school buses. Below is a map of the status of districts within the County:
The goal is to have all the other school districts on board in 2022. School Districts enter into individual agreements with Dutchess County and BusPatrol and get the equipment installed on their vehicles.
For more information about the Dutchess County School Bus Safety Program, contact TrafficSafety@DutchessNY.gov.
Every day 2.3 million children are transported by school buses throughout New York State. Data has shown that on a single school day, an estimated 50,000 drivers throughout the State illegally pass stopped school buses (source: https://trafficsafety.ny.gov/operation-safe-stop).
In New York, a one-month study of 10 buses in East Meadow was conducted in 2019. Cameras recorded 615 illegal stop-arm passes, or roughly 2.3 per bus per day. This represents three times more than the number of tickets given out by Nassau & Suffolk counties during the entire 2018-2019 school year.
When a school bus stops and flashes its red lights, traffic approaching from either direction must stop before reaching the bus:
For more information, see this video.
Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children -- slow down and prepare to stop your vehicle. Red flashing lights mean the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off -- stop your vehicle and wait until the school bus resumes motion or until signaled by the driver or police officer to proceed. Learn more at New York DMV.
Stop-arm cameras identify illegal passers by license plate number. Tickets are issued to a vehicle’s registered owner unless the automobile is proven stolen during the time of the offense. If someone other than the vehicle’s owner was driving at the time, the owner can request a transfer of liability. For more informaiton, see this sample notice of liability form. A first-time stop-arm violation carries a fine of $250, subsequent violations within an 18-month period are subject to a $25 increase in penalty, up to a maximum of $300.
In addition to the financial deterrent, violators also learn about the potential dangers of their actions. Offenders can call the program's toll-free number and speak with a representative, who can review the video evidence with them and help them understand the dangers of illegal passing. Services are offered in both English and Spanish.
Data from other safety programs demonstrates that 94% of first-time offenders do not receive a second ticket, and that 95% of drivers do not contest their ticket after seeing video evidence of their violation.
To speak to a representative about a stop-arm violation, contact the Alertbus Customer Contact Center at 1-877-504-7080. The Contact Center is available Monday to Friday (8 AM – 5 PM). English, Spanish, and French speaking customer service agents are available to address your inquiries. To expedite our service to you, please have your Citation Number ready when you call.
To view the violation video evidence online or to pay a violation by credit card, visit www.alertbus.com and enter the following information: Your citation number (example: NY-777777) and vehicle license plate number (no dashes or spaces), as listed on your citation.
To pay by check or money order, mail your payment to the below address. Checks or money orders should be made payable to School Bus Stop Arm Safety Program. Also, please write your citation number in the memo section of the check or money order.
Dutchess County Schools
School Bus Stop Arm Safety Program
P.O. Box 1405
Smithtown, NY 11787
To pay by phone or for any other inquiries, please call (877) 504-7080. All payments must be sent to the above listed payment center; the County does not accept payments at any location.
Operation Safe Stop seeks to promote school bus safety through education and enforcement efforts. Operation Safe Stop is a cooperative project supported by the New York State Governor's Traffic Safety Committee, the New York State Education Department, the New York Association for Pupil Transportation, the New York State School Bus Contractors Association, the student transportation industry and state, county, city and local law enforcement agencies.
What should you do while waiting for the bus? While boarding the bus? While on the bus? While getting off the bus? These questions are answered in General School Bus Safety Rules.
Taking the bus for the first time is a big step for your child. Help your kids get a gold star in bus safety by following the Safe Kids School Bus Safety Tips.
Our children’s safety is our utmost priority and school bus drivers take their responsibility very seriously. The Dutchess County School Bus Driver of the Year award seeks to promote school bus safety through education and enforcement efforts. Each year we like to take the opportunity to say thank you to all the bus drivers who transport our children with such care and to remind drivers that they also have a very important role in school bus safety. Any school bus company/district may submit a nominee each year prior to Operation Safe Stop.
The 2019 winner is Janice Tito from Arlington Central School District (2002 – 2019 Winners).
The School Bus Driver of the Year award was suspended in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and the unprecedented impact and challenges faced by School Districts and especially the transportation personnel and school bus drivers. We hope to reinitiate the award in the spring of 2022.