Week-Long Study: Hundreds Illegally Pass North Country School BusesPosted: Updated:
Drivers passing stopped school buses has been a concern for north country schools... An example is in the video above, taken from a Hermon-Dekalb Central School bus earlier this year.
After receiving a call from Hermon-Dekalb central.. State Senator Patty Ritchie decided to take matters into her own hands. The week of March 13 through the 17, Senator Ritchie asked bus drivers in her district to keep a daily count of how many vehicles illegally ignored stopped school buses.
"After receiving the call, we decided that maybe it would be a good thing to find out how bad the problem actually is," Ritchie said. "And I'll be honest with you, I was astonished when the results came back."
In just one week, 176 drivers passed stopped buses in Jefferson county,125 of those just in Watertown. In St. Lawrence County, 84 drivers passed school buses that week.
Since then, Senator Ritchie has sponsored and passed a number of bills in the senate that would increase penalties for drivers who pass school buses."
"If you're driving a heavy vehicle, a large truck it could potentially be up to 30 days in jail," Ritchie said. "Some of them increase the penalties especially when someone is on a cell phone or using an electronic device when they pass a school bus."
The survey also asked bus drivers for their opinions on laws targeting violators. While more than half liked the idea of increasing penalties.. Most want to install cameras on buses because a picture is worth a thousand words.