Brooklyn, NY – In response to concerns Councilman David G. Greenfield has heard from parents, yeshivas and bus drivers, the NYPD will begin a crackdown on drivers who illegally pass yellow school buses stopped to pick up or drop off children. Over the past few months, Greenfield’s office has seen a spike in complaints of drivers disregarding school buses’ red stop signs and dangerously passing them on local avenues and streets.
“We need to take action against these reckless and irresponsible drivers before a child is chas v’shalom killed getting on or off a school bus. It’s really shocking how many drivers take such a dangerous risk just to save a few seconds,” remarked Greenfield. “This is our community. I urge all drivers to slow down on local streets and be especially careful around school buses and children. I’m confident that NYPD enforcement of trouble spots around the 66th Precinct will go a long way towards curtailing this growing problem.”
This issue is especially worrisome in Brooklyn’s Jewish neighborhoods, which are home to dozens of schools and thousands of children who are transported on yellow buses every day. In recent weeks, Greenfield’s office has heard complaints from bus drivers, yeshivas and parents who are concerned about the increase in drivers ignoring bus stop signs. The problem has gotten so severe that some bus drivers now park diagonally across the avenue while dropping off children to ensure no vehicles pass, despite the risk of tickets and license points this carries for drivers.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children ages 5 to 14 are more likely to die from motor vehicle traffic injuries, including pedestrian injuries, than any other cause. Nearly one in five traffic deaths among children ages 14 and under are pedestrian deaths. The CDC notes that children are at greater risk of injury or death from traffic crashes due to their small size, inability to judge distances and speeds, and lack of experience with traffic rules. In a recent study, Safe Kids USA found that nearly 60% of students encounter serious hazards including complicated traffic conditions, improper parking and speeding drivers on their route to school.
Yide Lieb Zorger, director of transportation for United Talmudical Academy of Satmar, which is the largest school in Borough Park and is responsible for transporting thousands of children every day, said a student was struck several weeks ago by a car illegally passing a stopped school bus at 10th Avenue and 46th Street. He noted that due to the proximity of so many schools in the area, there are more than 100 buses on local streets at certain times each day.
“This problem is getting worse and worse and is occurring on a daily basis to almost every bus. Nobody has respect for the flashing red lights in Borough Park,” said Zorger. “It’s a miracle these days that nothing happens on a daily basis. These are our children we’re talking about, and the bottom line is, if a bus is stopped, you can’t pass it.”
Deputy Inspector John Sprague, commanding officer of the 66th Precinct, agreed. “I have directed my officers to crack down on motorists who dangerously and illegally pass school buses on local streets. Drivers must realize how dangerous this behavior is for pedestrians, especially school children,” he said. “I am happy to work with Councilman Greenfield to make our streets safer, and the 66th Precinct is committed to taking action in response to community concerns. I urge all motorists to be cognizant and look out for the safety of our children, pedestrians and other motorists by following all vehicle, traffic and safety laws.”