Passing a school bus while it is loading or unloading students is not only illegal, it is very dangerous. Students are notorious for not paying attention as they exit or enter the bus, so don’t expect them to be watching for a car speeding past the bus. Also, since cars are required to stop for school buses, the kids likely would have no expectation you were coming and might step right in your path.

Parents, school administrators and traffic safety experts repeatedly caution drivers to slow down and stop for all school buses when they are loading or unloading students. Now police in Bedford, New York, as jumping into the mix with Operation Safe Stop. During this special offensive against dangerous drivers, officers with the Bedford Police Department will be riding on school buses to ensure sfaety and be on the lookout for drivers who do not stop. They will also be deployed on special patrols in marked and unmarked vehicles searching for drivers who ignore school bus safety. All of this additional enforcement will be focused on bus routes that have had the most recent complaints of unsafe driving by teachers, students, parents and school administrators.

Section 1174 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law specifically addresses how motorists should approach and deal with school buses. If you ignore this law and try to pass a stopped or slowing school bus in New York state you are not only endangering the lives of children, but also leaving yourself open to serious penalties. A first conviction earns you fines up to $400 and 30 days in jail. If you continue to violate the law it gets worse: third convictions bring fines of up to $1,000 and 180 days in jail.

Not only should you consider avoiding fines, jail time and points on your license, but also the impact it would have on you if you were to inadvertently strike and kill a child. That is a far worse punishment and one you will have to live with forever.