Tougher fines for people passing a school bus with red flashing lights?

Posted at 6:18 PM, Feb 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-26 18:18:00-05

There continues to be a statewide problem with drivers going past school buses that have stopped with red flashing lights.  It is such a concern that Governor Cuomo is asking lawmakers to increase penalties.

Distracted driving is one reason that is suspected for the on-going problem.  

Police across the state try to drive home the danger it poses to children as part of a law enforcement initiative named "Operation Safe Stop."  On April 27, 2017, Operation Safe Stop resulted in police issuing over 1,037 tickets for drivers who failed to stop for a school bus that was either loading or unloading students. (2.964 tickets were issued for other moving violations during the same sting operation.)

There are 180 days in a school year and officials say the number of violators caught during the one-day effort can be multiplied many times to indicate how large the problem is.

Hadley Bos-Fisher, president of Fisher Bus Service in Hamburg, tells 7 Eyewitness News that his bus drivers regularly report cases of drivers ignoring their flashing red lights.  While there have been no injuries to students, there have been close calls.

Cheryl Patton has been a school bus driver for twenty three years.  She told reporter Ed Reilly that on one occasion, a car went by the right side of her bus so fast that it came within feet of striking a female student who was in the process of getting off the bus.

Trooper James O'Callaghan, from the New York State Police, said troopers take all complaints seriously when it comes to cars passing a stopped school bus.  State Police encourage other drivers to get a license plate number and report a violation when they see one.

Tuesday morning on Eyewitness News, Ed Reilly takes a closer look at the problem and rides along with NYS Police as they follow up on complaints in Wheatfield.