The Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol is terribly concerned about the number of drivers in Oneida County are passing stopped school buses. The numbers show an alarming trend and something has to change.

A "Concerning" Rise

Even with the introduction of a ticketing system attached to the stop sign arms on buses, people are still ignoring the warnings and passing right by, ultimately putting the children at risk.

Sheriff Maciol says:

It’s very concerning for the safety of our school children when I see the number of violations that occur in our county daily.  This program is highly effective in catching those who pass stopped school buses and I strongly encourage the remaining districts that are not part of this program to reach out to my office so that they can be.

The Oneida County Sheriff's Office has contracted with the company Verra Mobility to administer the safety program in which drivers who pass a stopped school bus sign not only get a ticket, but the ability to access video proof that they indeed committed the act.

Numbers by District

The program began during the summer school season on June 12th, 2023. Since that time a total of 322 drivers have passed school buses dropping off or picking up students.

New York City School Bus Drivers On Verge Of Strike
Photo Credit - Mario Tama / Getty Images
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Here is a breakdown of the numbers by school district.

  1. Whitesboro: 106
  2. New Hartford: 53
  3. New York Mills: 45
  4. Rome: 35
  5. Westmoreland: 35
  6. Waterville: 18
  7. Holland Patent: 16
  8. Sauquoit: 14

That is 322 instances where a tragic accident could have occurred. When asked for a reason, Sheriff Maciol says most people don't even realize they passed a stopped bus or claim to not even remember.

Penalties for Violating Stopped School Bus Laws

According to the Sheriff's Office and Department of Motor Vehicles, there are various levels of punishment that can be handed down for ignoring or missing the bright flashing warning sign.

The sheriff's office states:

Under the law, the fine for passing a school bus ranges from $250 for a first violation, to a maximum of $1,000 for three violations in three years. Additionally, if a vehicle owner is convicted of three violations in three years, their driver’s license can be revoked for a minimum of six months.

More important than a financial fine, the consequence of possibly seriously injuring or killing a child is something that one would never recover from.

The video above shows a bus driver for the Norwich School District in Norwich, New York literally saving the life of a young child who is almost struck and killed by a truly reckless driver. In this instance, it's clear the driver went out of their way to pass this bus as it passed on the shoulder of the road.

Don't be the one who is responsible for a senseless tragedy.

Sheriff Maciol is hoping that other districts in the county will sign on to the program already in place. While it still serves as a punishment and future deterrent, nothing will stop these school bus passings more than paying close attention while driving, always!

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