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South Colonie Central School District News

speakers talk about school bus safety

law enforcement officials stand united in front of school bus

speakers talk about school bus safety

School administrators, elected officials and law enforcement team with AAA at Colonie Central High School today to remind motorists to drive safe and stop for school buses as school is about to open again Sept. 8. Top photo: South Colonie Superintendent of School Jonathan Buhner welcomes the guests, Middle photo: law enforcement stands united to protect school children, and Bottom photo: Colonie Police Chief Jonathan Teale says the town is ready to do its part, as Albany County Executive Dan McCoy (seated right) listens.

South Colonie Teams With AAA, Elected Officials and Law Enforcement to Remind Motorists School is Opening, Drive Carefully

With the start of the school year just one week away, South Colonie Schools teamed with traffic safety officials and law enforcement today to remind motorist to use extra caution on the roads and stop for school buses when the flashing lights are on.

“For many of us who have the summers off we forget that we as motorists are responsible to be really careful this time of year,” said Terri Egan, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. “Everyone just needs to slow down, use caution, pay attention and stop for school buses. It’s not an option; it’s the law.”

This marked the 70th year that AAA has sponsored the “Schools Open – Drive Carefully” campaign, a statewide initiative backed by Gov. Cuomo and this year hosted for the first time at Colonie Central High School.

Speakers from the State Police, Town of Colonie Police Department, Albany County, the NYS Association for Pupil Transportation, and others gathered in the soon-to-be crowded school library to urge drivers to slow down near schools, bus stops and playgrounds and be prepared to stop for children and school buses. Children 14 years and younger, they said, are the most vulnerable pedestrian group with increased danger when schools reopen.

“No child or parent should feel unsafe because a motorist is in a hurry or impatient,” said Nancy McMahon, spokeswoman for AAA Hudson Valley.

“Children are our most precious cargo,” added South Colonie Superintendent Jonathan Buhner, “and we are honored to be here today to do our part to help spread the message.”

The latest statistics show that in 2014 there was some 2,000 crashes involving school buses in New York State, Egan said, “and just about every one of them was avoidable. Most were the result of driver inattentiveness or distraction. Let’s do what we can to make that 2,000 number a zero this year.”

“Our goal once again this school year is to raise awareness among motorists and gain compliance,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Regan, New York State Police.

“There will be aggressive enforcement out there so parents, talk to your neighbors and friends and get the word out. We are all in this together.”

According to the Governor’s Traffic Safety Commission, an estimated 50,000 motor vehicles illegally pass New York State school buses every year. The first-time fine for illegally passing a school bus is a $250 to $400 fine, 5 points on your license, and/or possibly 30 days in jail.

But it’s not about writing tickets, said Albany County Sheriff Craig D. Apple Sr. “Worse yet, the memory of hitting or killing a child may be one you carry for the rest of your life,” he said.

Drivers have a responsibility to help maintain the safety of children. When approaching a school bus, you must:

Flashing yellow lights warn that the bus is about to stop. You should begin to slow your vehicle and prepare to stop.

From either direction, even on divided highways – when a school bus is stopped with its red lights flashing.

Only when the red lights are turned off and bus is again moving, or when waved on by driver or police officer.

Children may be approaching a stopped school bus from any direction.

School buses may not turn right on red while transporting students.