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Police to enforce school bus safety throughout Dutchess Co.

Throughout Dutchess County and the entire state, local police officers and state troopers will be riding the school bus on Wednesday. Operation Safe Stop is a statewide program intended to educate drivers about motorist safety near school busses. Officers throughout the county will be monitoring drivers as passengers on school busses, following the busses, or positioned at bus stops with a history of numerous illegal passing complaints.

Traffic violations will be issued to drivers who do not come to a complete stop and wait when they approach a school bus. Flashing red lights indicate that a child is about to disembark or board the bus. The administrator for the Dutchess County Traffic Safety and Stop DWI department says that nearly 50,000 drivers throughout the state of New York illegally pass and go around stopped school busses every day.

The goal of tomorrow's monitoring is to proactively educate motorists about the rules of passing school busses at a stop. When drivers see a school bus stopped with flashing red lights, vehicle operators - including bicyclists - must:

• Come to a complete stop. Flashing lights mean children are being picked up or dropped off. It is illegal to pass a bus when the red lights are flashing.

• Come to a complete stop whether you are approaching the bus on the same or opposite side of the street.

• Come to a complete stop even if approaching the bus on multi-lane roads divided by a median.

• Come to a complete stop even when you are on school grounds.

• The sentence for your first offense of illegally passing a stopped school bus can be up to 30 days in jail, $250 to $400 in fines and fees, and five points on your driver's license.

Source: Poughkeepsie, "Police to enforce bus safety," Rebecca Croniser, April 17, 2012

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