Advice from the Suffolk County PD about Road Safety

September 14, 2021

Courteous driving habits are all part of being a good neighbor. All drivers in any community have a responsibility to keep the roads safe, and that means sharing the road smartly and safely.

This is all especially true during the school year. Not only do you have to be more careful about kids in the streets, but you also have to contend with school buses. That’s why we spoke to a representative from the Suffolk County Police Department to learn more about sharing the road with school buses: both the drivers of the buses themselves, and the kids inside on their way to school.

They emphasized that while you should always watch the roads carefully for children during the school year, drivers “should be extra cautious in school zones, as well as in residential streets that may be the locations of numerous bus stops. Drive slowly while remaining patient and alert.”

Everyone needs to be aware of local laws relating to school buses. Here in Howl’s home state of New York, it’s illegal to pass a stopped school bus when the bus’s stop sign is in operation. Also note that flashing lights mean the bus is picking up or dropping off students. 

“The first-time fine for illegally passing a school bus is between $250 and $400 and/or possibly 30 days in jail,” said the Suffolk County Police representative. “Repeat offenders can face up to $1000 in fines and up to 180 days in jail.” That’s especially important to keep in mind now that school districts and municipalities are authorized to use stop-arm cameras on school buses, which take pictures of vehicles that are illegally passing stopped buses. Besides large monetary fines, these violations could also cost drivers 3-11 points on their licenses.

As for families with children who take the bus to school, the Suffolk County Police Department advises families to familiarize themselves with their bus stop location: 

  • When walking to the bus stop, be sure to walk on the sidewalk when possible.
  • When waiting at the bus stop, stand back from the curb and the street, especially when at an intersection.
  • When getting off the bus at your bus stop, wait until instructed to exit the bus.
  • When crossing the street, make sure you make eye contact with the bus driver, so they are aware you are there. Do not cross the street directly in front of the bus, as most children are shorter than the front of the bus. And please pass far enough in front of the bus so the driver can see you.
  • If you are to drop a personal item in front of, or near the bus, do not bend down to pick it up until you make eye contact with the bus driver, alerting the bus driver of your whereabouts and intentions.
  • Most school districts provide safety measures for families on bus safety. Utilize all information you can obtain from your school district to further educate yourselves on safety in and around school buses.

All that may seem like a lot of information to keep in mind, but when you get right down to it, school bus safety comes down to common sense: obey the speed limit, keep an eye on the road, and always be respectful of pedestrians and your fellow drivers.

It’s also important to stay informed about what’s going on around the roads near you and your neighborhood. Download the Howl app for local, relevant, and urgent information about your community, including traffic, accidents, road work and more. Thanks for doing your part to keep your community safe!