NEW YORK STATE -- New York law enforcement officials are warning drivers to be on the lookout for school buses. Authorities and the New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) will hold their 19th annual Operation Safe Stop Day on Wednesday.
NYAPT Executive Director, Peter Mannella said, "There will be police officers all across New York state that have been tipped off by local school districts to let them know where people pass school buses on a regular basis every day."
School officials say there are more than 50,000 school buses on New York state roads across the state every day and officials say cars will pass buses with red flashing lights on 50,000 times a day. That's once per every school bus.
"That's nine million times a year," Mannella said. "Nine million times a year someone will pass a school bus."
NYAPT has been running Operation Safe Stop Day since 1993 and officials say the most upsetting part is many drivers either don't know the law, or choose not to follow it.
"The law reads when those red lights are flashing on that school bus, you're supposed to stop for it," Mannella said. "That's divided highways, which some people have a tough time with, four lane highways, two lane highways. Name the road and you're supposed to stop for it."
Law enforcement officials say drivers not stopping for school buses with their lights on is still a major problem. They say two children were killed in 2004 and 2005 because of drivers who didn't stop, and kids are injured almost every day.
Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour said, "It's no different than a red light. When that caution light comes on for a few seconds at a red light, it's like a school bus. It's preparing you to stop."
If caught and ticketed, drivers face a fine of between $250 - $400 for a first time offense and 5 points on their license. Get caught multiple times, and you could face the maximum of a $1,000 fine and 30 days in jail.
For more information on Operation Safe Stop Day go to www.safeny.ny.gov .