Cracking down on illegal school bus passing

Suffolk County’s Bus Stop-Arm Safety Program


As the back-to-school excitement of September ends and October begins, Suffolk County law enforcement will continue putting a stop to illegal school bus passing through Suffolk County’s School Bus Stop-Arm Safety Program. 

New York State law requires all drivers to stop for school buses with stop arms extended. An extended stop arm and flashing red lights indicate that students are being loaded onto or unloaded from buses on their way to or from school. Drivers on both sides of the road are required to stop for school buses with stop arms extended, regardless of whether the bus is on a two-lane road, multi-lane road, divided highway, or even school grounds.

Yet, according to New York State’s Operation Safe Stop initiative, drivers continue to subvert these laws, with more than 50,000 vehicles passing stopped school buses each day across the state.

“The number of drivers who illegally pass our school buses is, quite simply, unacceptable,” said Bay Shore superintendent Dr. Steven J. Maloney. “We have a responsibility to pay attention to our surroundings while driving, which includes watching for school buses with yellow or red lights flashing. By working together as a community, and a larger community of drivers on Long Island, we can protect our students.”

Maloney’s concern for students prompted Bay Shore School District and Suffolk Transportation, its pupil transportation provider, to lead the way in participating in a pilot program for bus stop-arm cameras.

Now operating countywide, this School Bus Stop-Arm Safety Program outfits Suffolk County’s school buses with the latest technology, including DVR and storage devices, internal cameras, LTE connectivity, and stop-arm cameras that capture drivers who put our youngest residents at risk by disregarding the law. When a school bus is stopped and its lights and stop arm are activated, stop-arm cameras capture vehicles illegally passing the bus. Next, this data is sent to people who will review the footage and prepare evidence packages for law enforcement. While a first-time violation is $250, motorists that pass a stopped bus will be fined $275 for a second violation and $300 for a third.

According to the Suffolk County School Bus Camera Program and its advisory board, behavior modification is evidence of the program’s success. While illegal passing offenders previously became repeat offenders 25 percent of the time, repeat offenders are now down to 10 percent within Suffolk County.

Illegal bus passing is still a present problem throughout every Long Island community. In Bay Shore, areas like Fifth Avenue and Union Avenue, which have multiple lanes in each direction, are consistently among the highest violation areas. During the last three months of the 2022-2023 school year, the Bay Shore School District saw an average of 330 tickets per month, or almost 11 per day.

As the school year continues, remember to slow down and pay attention to your surroundings. Do not forget to stop, or pay the price! 


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