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Fairport-E.Rochester Post
  • Police, schools on lookout for motorists who pass buses

  • Fairport was among several school districts and law enforcement agencies to participate in Operation Safe Stop, a cooperative program to promote school-bus safety, on Thursday, April 15.

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  • Peter Lawrence has bus drivers tell him daily about motorists who pass their school buses, despite the flashing red lights signaling that students are entering or exiting the vehicle.
    “We’ve had cars pass on the right-hand side,” said Lawrence, Fairport Schools director of transportation. “In one case students were getting off the bus and the car went along the grass. If the bus driver didn’t grab the students, they probably would’ve gotten hit.”
    It’s not an isolated problem in Fairport. The state estimates that its buses are being passed 50,000 times a day. In New York, 69 students were injured and one was killed as a result between 2002 and 2004. The law is violated despite a first-time fine of $250 to 400, five points being added to the driver’s license and possibly spending up to 30 days in jail.
    Lawrence said drivers can fill out a form to document when a car runs a red light, but it requires the vehicle’s license plate, make and color, which can be difficult to get. It is sent to the state — which can’t issue tickets, only letters.
    School transportation departments work with area law enforcement to document areas where buses are passed more frequently. Lawrence said Pittsford-Palmyra Road, a four-lane highway is one of those areas. The Johanna Perrin Middle School bus loop has also been a problem with parents dropping off students, but Lawrence said the traffic pattern will change after spring break.
    Fairport was among several school districts and law enforcement agencies to participate in Operation Safe Stop, a cooperative program to promote school-bus safety, on Thursday, April 15.
    The Brighton Police Department participated and wrote 24 traffic tickets, two of which were for passing a bus.
    “I thought we were quite successful,” Lt. Robert Cline said. “We were out there both in the morning and the afternoon.”
    Cline added that officers are on the lookout for violations on a daily basis.
    A major problem area in Brighton is Elmwood Avenue between Twelve Corners and the city line, according to Cline.
    “The bus will stop in curb lane and the drivers might be in the opposite lanes because it’s four lanes wide and may not pay attention,” he said. “The wider the road, the more problematic it is.”
    Lawrence said a student being struck is his “worst nightmare.”
    “The drivers have a lot of training and they do a great job, but there is that unknown of kids crossing improperly,” Lawrence said. “The last thing we should have to worry about is adults behaving irresponsibly in motor vehicles.”

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