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We are parents, daycare providers, teachers and workers who – together – are raising the next generation of Westchester residents. Every day, we entrust our school district with our children’s safety. Of course, we expect them to take every necessary precaution to ensure their little bodies and minds are protected.
We also expect their partners – including the county – to support them in delivering on the promise of keeping our kids safe.
But, over the course of the back-to-school period this year, pilot programs in two Westchester County school districts, Somers and Hendrick Hudson, captured more than 640 illegal school bus passings. Hundreds of drivers were caught on video while recklessly ignoring the law and putting the kids who get on and off school buses every day in danger.
In recent years, our communities have also seen an increase in dangerous driving around school buses. Recent reports from the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) note that school bus illegal passing is at an “epidemic level,” with more than 41.8 million violations each year nationwide. Every instance that goes unenforced endangers the life of a child in our county.
Westchester kids are the only children in our region who do not benefit from school bus safety programs. Because of Westchester County’s inaction, our school districts are unable to implement solutions aimed at enforcing laws. As a result, Westchester school districts are denied the opportunity to utilize advanced photo enforcement technology to catch lawbreakers and issue citations to motorists who illegally pass a stopped school bus.
Neighboring suburban counties, including Rockland, Dutchess, Putnam and Suffolk counties, and several municipalities in Nassau County, have all passed local laws and approved full-fleet, zero-cost bus safety programs. These programs, which combine education and sustainable enforcement, are proven to dramatically curb dangerous driving around school buses and across all community roads.
These school bus safety programs can be applied across entire bus fleets, leaving no child unsafe, and are available to communities at no cost through a violator-funded program; the motorists who put children at risk, pay for the technology that protects them.
We have come together to implore Westchester County to prioritize the safety of our children and pass this important legislation to enhance public safety now.
Elizabeth Gilleo, Transportation Supervisor, Hendrick Hudson School District
Hendrick Hudson High School PTSA members
Rebecca Quigley, President
Michelle Piccolo Hill, Vice President
Antoinette Pio, Vice President
Jenean Eichenholtz, Secretary
David Parker, Treasurer
Maira Sullivan, Corresponding Secretary
Hendrick Hudson Elementary PTA Executive Board
Antoinette Pio, Co-President
Dana Goyer, Co-President
Allison Hooban, Vice President
TaNitra Watson, Vice President
Alana Silverman, Vice President
Mariella Carrasquillo, Vice President
Katie Reilly Strommer, Treasurer
Rebecca Chess-Pettit, Corresponding Secretary
Jessica Berbeck, Secretary