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No legitimate excuse for passing a stopped school bus

No legitimate excuse for passing a stopped school bus

With schools opening, drivers must be extra careful, extra considerate of young lives at stake

The photo above on the left is of a stopped school bus as seen from the back.

The photo above on the right is of a stopped school bus as seen from the front.

If you see either of these two images out your windshield at any time while driving your car, stop. Then stay there until the flashing lights go off and the bus starts moving again.

There. How difficult was that?

Apparently it’s quite difficult for many people to grasp the concept of stopping for stopped school buses. And as a result many kids are hurt or killed every year. This bad habit needs to change.

We wrote about this very same issue back in April, when the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee sponsored a sweep by state, county and local police to crack down on drivers who pass stopped school buses.

A school bus driver sent us a copy of our editorial and recommended we remind drivers about it again at the beginning of the school year. So here it is.

That April traffic sweep resulted in 1,186 tickets being issued to motorists statewide in one day. Police estimate that 50,000 drivers illegally pass stopped school buses in New York every day. In a 180-day school year, that's 9 million chances drivers take at running over children. Nine million chances to injure or kill.

You've seen kids. They're nuts. So anxious to get off that bus and to their next non-school destination, they don't look where they're going. They don't stop and check for cars coming in either direction. They don't think not to stop in the middle of the road if they drop something. They just go go go.

For their safety, they're counting you in your car to act responsibly by following the law and waiting to move ahead until they're safely out of harm's way.

If you don't stop, why don't you? A school bus is 45 feet long, 10 feet high, bright yellow and has flashing red and yellow lights. Most now even have signs that say STOP extending from the side. If you're too blind to see that, you shouldn't be behind the wheel in the first place.

And if you must pass a school bus, ask yourself if you really need to. Where are you going in such a hurry that you can't wait? Sure, it's a pain if you're behind one as it's making all its stops. So time your trip better.

If getting caught behind a school bus as it stops every 20 feet is going to make you late for work or an appointment, leave a little earlier or a little later. You might actually save time by leaving yourself a little more time.

If you stop behind or in front of a stopped school bus, there's no chance you'll kill anyone that day.

By the way, there are consequences of passing a stopped school bus beyond a guilty conscience. Currently, you'll face a $250 fine for a first offense (and usually some court fees on top of that) and a $1,000 fine for a third offense within six months.

You can also be subject to five points on your driver's license, which will drive up your insurance rates, and could possibly have your license taken away.

We know you've got places to be. But are the consequences of passing a stopped school bus really worth saving a few minutes?

Schools are starting to open now, and the buses — and the kids — are starting to run.

So memorize those photos above. And when either image appears in your windshield, hit your brakes and don't move again until that bus does.

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