OSWEGO, NY â€“ Even though city police didn’t write a lot of tickets during Operation Safe Stop this week, the program was deemed a success.
On Thursday, members of the Oswego City Police Department participated in the effort to promote school bus safety through education and enforcement efforts.
The Oswego Police Departmentâ€™s efforts were geared toward enforcing NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law violations including passing stopped school buses, but also included other violations which may help to reduce aggressive driving behavior and improve overall safety in and around our school zones.
Operation Safe Stop is a cooperative project. It is supported by the New York State Governorâ€™s Traffic Safety Committee, the New York State Education Department, the New York Association for Pupil Transportation, the New York State School Bus Contractors Association, the Student Transportation Industry, and state, county and local law enforcement agencies.
Founded in 1992 as a regional safety effort, Operation Safe Stop was expanded statewide in 1997.
The goal of Operation Safe Stop was to proactively educate motorists about the dangers of passing stopped school buses.
During the day-long special detail, members of the Oswego City Police Department patrolled the bus routes and roadways around the city’s schools in an attempt to observe any violators.
According to Capt. Tory DeCaire, this year’s operation resulted in Oswego police officers issuing the following citations:
- 2 tickets for Passing a Stopped School Bus
- 4 tickets for Speeding in a School Zone
- 1 ticket for Failing to Stop at a Stop Sign
- 1 ticket for Cell Phone Use
“We aren’t out to punish drivers. We want to educate them about the importance of not passing a stopped school bus – anywhere,” said one of the officers attached to the detail. “This is the safety of the kids we’re talking about here.”
Police Chief Michael J. Dehm Jr. agreed.
â€œThe goal was to educate the public and I think that we have done just that.Â The fact that we were out there and making the news may have been enough of an incentive to help prevent potential violators from passing a school bus today and in the future,” the chief said. “Even though Operation Safe Stop has ended, we still plan to continue our aggressive enforcement of observed violators.â€
Passing a stopped school bus is a serious safety concern for everyone, the chief said.
“Our obvious goal is, of course, 100 percent compliance. Our enforcement efforts do not end just because Operation Safe Stop has concluded this year,” he added. “We will continue, throughout the year, to seek out and ticket violators, until our goal is met.â€
The district’s drivers told police which sections of their routes were hot spots, and those were among the areas targeted by Operation Safe Stop.
“Every driver has been passed at least one time or another,” an Oswego school bus driver noted.
As a bus driver prepares to stop, they activate flashing yellow caution lights and as soon as the door opens it activates the large red stop signs that fan out from the side of the bus.
As the children exit the bus, they wait at the corner for a signal from the driver to safely cross the intersection.
It is illegal to pass a stopped school bus when the large red lights located on the top of the bus are flashing.
According to the law, flashing lights mean the bus is picking up or discharging students. Motorists must stop, no matter from which direction they are approaching the bus.
The law applies to all roadways, including a divided or multi-lane highway and on school grounds.
According to the Oswego County Traffic Safety Board, an estimated 50,000 motor vehicles illegally pass stopped school buses every day, in New York State.
In the last several years, more than 35 students were reportedly hit by motorists in New York State passing stopped school buses; two of them were killed.
First time offenders face fines from $250 to $400 and up to 30 days in jail.
A second conviction within three years could result in fines of $600 to $750 and up to 180 days in jail. Subsequent convictions mean fines of $750 to $1,000 and up to 180 days in jail.