School bus danger: Illegal passing on the rise

BETHLEHEM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A new report on bus safety revealed thousands of New York drivers are illegally passing.

Thousands of people are illegally passing school busses but the conviction rate is low. There’s something that could change that to install cameras on the stop arm of busses, catching illegal passers on camera.

A driver speeds past a stopped school bus, putting children’s lives in danger. This happens 40,000 times a day in New York State alone. It’s a number that comes as no surprise to these local bus drivers.

“We see it every day, we see it every trip,” said Dave Lingenbach.

“Anywhere between two and five a day,” said Sean Simpson.

The new report comes from the New York Association of Pupil Transportation. Executive director Peter Manella says the numbers can’t be ignored.

“40,000 times in one day, one day is a lot, that’s one for every bus we have in the state,” Manella said.

What’s worse is 5,000 of those illegal passes are on the right-side of the road where kids get on and off the bus. It happened to Lingenbach. A tractor trailer zoomed by on the right and he acted fast.

“I grabbed her backpack as she was stepping off because I saw it coming in my mirror and he just went by, and just disbelief, what just happened,” Lingenbach said.

There’s a reason that driver was never held accountable. Unless a police officer sees the illegal passing, drivers usually get away.

“Where’s my child, keep them safe and by that time, usually the car is gone by and you can’t get license plate description and all of that,” said Cindy Jurewicz.

Manella says a bill that would equip bus stop arms with surveillance cameras would hold people accountable and serve as a deterrent.

The bill is in senate committee. Lingenbach hopes the legislature will take action to help protect the kids who are the reason he loves his job.

The kids fill a void, I never had kids so it’s a great job,” Lingenbach said.

These bus drivers teach the students to stop before getting off the bus and to look both ways, something that’s now more important than ever.

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