As the incident of the Chattanooga school bus crash still lingers in the minds of concerned parents, New York’s school bus laws have come under close scrutiny. While most buses are inherently safer than, for instance, smaller vehicles, many residents worry over the regulations of specific school zones. Below are a few facts to know about New York’s school bus laws.

It is a question that most parents ask, and is one that can come with a complex answer: do bus drivers require children to wear seatbelts onboard? As the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee shares, all school buses manufactured after July 1, 1987 must be equipped with seat belts. However, the law does not stop there; the state does not currently require the use of seat belts. Instead, this decision is up to the individual school district. The committee encourages parents who are concerned about seat belt rules to contact their local school board for more information. 

Understanding school bus regulations can also be beneficial on the driver’s side of the law. WPDH radio discusses some of the lesser-known school bus laws in the state, including stopping when a school bus flashes red lights. Many drivers assume that this detail of the law does not apply on divided highways, but WPDH clarifies that, while this is true in most states, it is not the case in New York. Drivers in the state must stop at the sign of red lights, even when a median is present. Another, perhaps forgotten bus law in New York involves the penalties themselves. WPDH stresses that even first time offenders can face major repercussions, including an automatic five point loss to a driver’s record and fines up to $400. Because these yellow giants on the road carry some of life’s most precious cargo, it is important to remain aware of the state’s school bus laws.