New York School Bus Contractors Association Joins Governor Cuomo in Calling for an Increase in Penalties for Drivers Who Illegally Pass a Stopped School Bus
The New York School Bus Contractors Association is renewing its call for the passage of legislation to stiffen the penalties for drivers who illegally pass a stopped school bus. This follows Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal made during his recent State of the State Address to increase fines on drivers who continue to ignore the law and put our children at risk.
“The New York School Bus Contractors Association supports Governor Cuomo’s proposal to increase the penalties for drivers who illegally pass a stopped school bus,” said Bree Allen, President of the New York School Bus Contractors Association. “Unfortunately, with estimates showing as many as 40,000 drivers in New York illegally passing a stopped school bus every day school is in session, it is clear that current penalties are not enough to act as a deterrent. We continue to strongly support the passage of complementary bills, sponsored by New York State Senator’s Rich Funke and John Bonacic, to increase the penalties on drivers who continue to break the law and put our children in danger.”
Under current law drivers ticketed for a first offense face a maximum of up to 30-days in jail, as much as a $400 fine, and a 5-point penalty on their drivers’ license.
Senator Funke’s legislation (S.1023), sponsored in the NYS Assembly by Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski (A.1207), would increase the range of fines for illegally passing a stopped school bus from a minimum of $400 to a maximum of $1500, depending on the number of convictions. The legislation also requires that a person who injures someone while passing a school bus be charged with aggravated vehicular assault, and if a person is killed in the incident, the legislation requires a charge of criminally negligent homicide.
Senator Bonacic’s legislation (S.1064), sponsored in the NYS Assembly by Assemblymember Aileen Gunther (A. 719), calls for the additional penalty of a 60-day suspension of a person’s drivers’ license when that person is convicted of illegally passing a stopped school bus two or more times within a 10-year period.
Both Senator Funke’s and Senator Bonacic’s bills were passed unanimously by the New York State Senate during the last legislative session in 2017, but failed to move in the New York State Assembly.
“School buses are, by far, the safest way for a child to get to and from school every day, and school districts and contractors are doing a phenomenal job here in New York. Our ongoing safety initiatives and awareness campaigns, including Operation Safe Stop, are helping too,” concluded Allen. “However, it is obvious that more needs to be done to make that ride even safer. We will continue to work closely with the Governor and the New York State legislature to pass tougher laws on drivers who put our children in harm’s way.”