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Grand Island Central School District: Patrol vehicles follow buses as part of Operation Safe Stop

Sat, Apr 28th 2018 07:00 am
Thursday morning at 6 a.m. in the Jack Burns Transportation Center, school district bus drivers and members of law enforcement gathered to conduct Operation Safe Stop. Police vehicles followed buses to enforce traffic law during the pickup and dropoff runs. Pictured are members of the Transportation Department as well as Tom Franz of the Grand Island Police Department and Amy Klimowicz of the Erie County Sheriff's Office. (Photo by Larry Austin)
Thursday morning at 6 a.m. in the Jack Burns Transportation Center, school district bus drivers and members of law enforcement gathered to conduct Operation Safe Stop. Police vehicles followed buses to enforce traffic law during the pickup and dropoff runs. Pictured are members of the Transportation Department as well as Tom Franz of the Grand Island Police Department and Amy Klimowicz of the Erie County Sheriff's Office. (Photo by Larry Austin)
The New York Governor's Traffic Safety Committee estimates 50,000 motor vehicles illegally pass school buses every day.
The goal of Operation Safe Stop, conducted statewide Thursday, is to reduce fatalities and personal injuries of school children through the use of highly visible enforcement and educating motorists of the laws against illegally passing stopped school buses.
Theresa Alizadeh, transportation supervisor of the Grand Island Central School District, agrees with the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee estimates based on reports from her bus drivers.
"I would say, on average, every day, yes, we have a car pass our red lights," Alizadeh said, noting long-standing problem areas such as Grand Island Boulevard, and Whitehaven, Bedell and Ransom Roads.
But some different roads of the Island have evolved into problem areas. (Looking at you, West River Service Road.)
"Recently, I've been asked to put some notification on West River. West River's a big deal right now," Alizadeh said. "Right now, you have the parkway closed, so you have 30 miles per hour where some of the traffic is used to getting onto the parkway and they still obey parkway speeds at 55 miles per hour."
Alizadeh said she called on law enforcement to patrol the area "because I have (drivers) riding up on buses or encroaching buses. They're in a hurry. They're used to that speed."
"So, West River is now a concern on Grand Island," Alizadeh said.
Thursday on the Island, six buses were trailed by a member of law enforcement just in case a driver passed a stopped school bus that had its red lights passing.
According to the Erie County Sheriff's Office, ECSO had multiple marked and unmarked vehicles patrolling selected bus routes that have a history of illegal passing complaints within the sheriff's primary patrol districts.
Operation Safe Stop's statewide enforcement against passing stopped school buses was scheduled for two details; 6-9 a.m. and 2-5 p.m. The deputies focused on the dangerous driving behavior of illegal passing stopped school buses, which put children at risk. According to the Erie County Sheriff's Office, ECSO has participated in Operation Safe Stop since October 2003. Since the inception of this partnership, law enforcement agencies, the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee, and the New York Association for Pupil Transportation have been active in coordinating this traffic safety initiative. Penalties for passing a stopped school bus range from: First conviction - fine of $250-$400, up to 30 days in jail, and 5 points. Second conviction (within three years) - fine of $600 to $750 and up to 180 days in jail. Third or subsequent conviction (within three years) - $750 to $1,000 and up to 180 days in jail.

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