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Safety Matters: Use caution around stopped school buses

SPRINGVILLE — It’s that time of year when those big, lumbering, yellow vehicles carrying our precious cargo make their way into our neighborhoods and communities. School bus safety and education is paramount to helping to prevent injuries and deaths.

Last year, in Erie County, 83 summonses were written for passing a stopped school bus. That is 83 times that your child or grandchild could have been seriously injured or even killed, as he or she entered or exited the bus.

It is extremely dangerous to pass a stopped school bus, whether approaching from the front or overtaking from the rear. Please slow down and obey all traffic laws and speed limits.

Red overhead flashing lights, possibly accompanied by an extended stop arm, tell you the bus is stopped to load or unload children. New York state law requires you to stop at least 20 feet from the front or rear of a school bus when red lights are flashing and not proceed until the school bus resumes motion, or until signaled by the school bus driver.

Be alert and ready to stop. Prepare to stop for a school bus when overhead yellow lights are flashing. Drive with caution if you see the yellow hazard warning lights flashing on a moving or stopped bus.

Watch for children walking in the street, especially where there are no sidewalks. Watch for children gathering near bus stops. Watch for children arriving late for the bus, who may dart into the street without looking for traffic. When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch for children walking or biking to school.

Parents, if your child rides a bus, make sure he or she is at the bus stop 5 minutes prior to the arrival of the bus. Help your children learn and practice the safety rules for walking, bicycling or riding in a car or bus. Be a good role model, especially when you are with your children.

Always buckle up in your car, always wear a helmet when biking and always follow pedestrian rules. Supervise young children as they walk or bike to school or wait at the school bus stop.

The first time you get caught illegally passing a school bus, you may earn five points on your license and a fine of up to $400, not to mention the possibility of your insurance premiums’ increasing.

A second conviction carries a fine of up to $750 and up to 180 days in jail and the third conviction carries a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 180 days in jail. Please, please be safe, for our children’s sake.

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