Back to School Bus Safety and Driver Awareness

County leaders urge kindness and support from the community

Poughkeepsie … As children throughout Dutchess County head back to school this week, Dutchess County Sheriff Adrian “Butch” Anderson and County Executive Marc Molinaro offer important reminders for students, families and motorists for a safe and healthy school year including school bus safety and kindness to all.

With school buses returning to the roadways, motorists must exercise caution and follow the rules for school bus safety. Sheriff Anderson said, “Every motorist plays a vital role helping our children arrive safely to and from school, and the first day of school is the best time to get in the habit of safety. From watching for pedestrians, obeying the rules of the road, respecting those with whom we share the road, and eliminating distracting driving are just a few of the ways we can all safeguard our students on our roadways.”

In addition to imploring motorists to be safe and courteous on the roads, County Executive Molinaro urged Dutchess County parents and children to be supportive of each other throughout the school year, building a community that embraces all students and supports their scholastic and social well-being.

County Executive Molinaro said, “Dutchess County is well known for its sense of community – gathering together in support of one another on countless endeavors, including our most important undertaking: the successful education of our children. As we embark on the 2019-20 school year, may we all strive to foster a kind and welcoming community for our future generation, one in which their young minds can be free to learn – bolstered by the encouragement of their parents, teachers and peers, and without social pressures that can detract from their education.”

That stress-free educational environment begins when a child steps on the school bus each morning, and motorists are asked to pay close attention and remember the following:

  • Coming to a complete stop is required by law of drivers approaching a school bus with its red lights on. This is required when approaching from either direction and also on divided highways, multiple lane roadways, parking lots and on school grounds. 
  • The Sheriff’s Office has a strict zero tolerance for those passing a stopped school bus, and those pulled over for it will be ticketed. 
  • Passing a stopped school bus is a serious offense in New York State, and the penalties are severe. 
  • When the lights on the bus are yellow, it means that the bus is about to stop. In this situation drivers are advised to slow down and prepare to stop for the bus; do not try to get past the bus before it stops.
  • Be aware that in some cases children may be standing near the edge of the roadway waiting for the bus; drive slowly and use extra caution in these areas. 
  • When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or riding a bicycle to school. 
  • Be alert that children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
  • Always avoid cell phone use while driving.
  • Yield to students in crosswalks.
  • Obey the speed limit, particularly near schools.
  • Look for students walking when you are turning, backing up or driving at night for after-school activities.

Students should pay special attention to school bus safety in and around school zones, and near bus stops. School children and parents should take notice of the following bus safety tips:

  • Children should get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive, to avoid rushing.
  • When waiting for the school bus, children should wait at the bus stop, and stand back five giant steps from the curb. 
  • Children need to avoid returning to the bus for any items left behind. 
  • Remind children to never bend down near the bus.
  • If a child needs to cross the street in front of the bus, he/she should make contact with the driver and wait for the signal that it is safe to cross in front of the bus. Children should always look both ways before crossing the street. 
  • Behind the bus is the “danger zone.” Remind children to never go behind the bus where the driver can’t see.

If walking to school, only cross the streets at marked crosswalks and intersections; use pedestrian pushbuttons; avoid cell phone use and be visible.