We are parents, day caregivers, educators and workers – together – raising the next generation of Westchester residents. Every day, we entrust our school district with the safety of our children. Of course, we expect them to take every precaution to ensure their little bodies and minds are protected.
We also expect their partners – including the county – to support them in delivering on their promise to keep our children safe.
But over the course of this year’s back-to-school period, pilot programs at two Westchester County school districts, Somers and Hendrick Hudson, accounted for more than 640 illegal school bus passes. Hundreds of drivers have been caught on video recklessly ignoring the law and endangering children who get on and off school buses every day.
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 Student Transportation Services (NASDPTS) indicate that illegal school bus passing is at an “epidemic level,” with more than 41.8 million violations each year nationwide. Every case passed without compulsion endangers the life of a child in our county.
Westchester children are the only children in our district who do not benefit from school bus safety programs. Because of Westchester County’s inaction, our school districts are unable to implement solutions intended to enforce laws. As a result, Westchester school districts are being denied the opportunity to use advanced photo enforcement technology to catch lawbreakers and issue citations to motorists who illegally pass a parked school bus.
Neighboring suburban counties, including Rockland, Dutchess, Putnam and Suffolk counties, and several municipalities in Nassau County have passed local ordinances and approved full-fleet and no-cost bus safety programs. Combining education with sustainable enforcement, these programs are proven to significantly reduce 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 program funded by offenders; Motorists who put children in danger pay for the technology that protects them.
We have come together to appeal to Westchester County to prioritize the safety of our children and to pass this important legislation to enhance public safety now.
Elizabeth Gillow, Superintendent of Transportation, Hendrick Hudson School
PTSA members at Hendrick Hudson High School
Rebecca Quigley, President
Michelle Piccolo Hill, Vice President
Antoinette Bio, Vice President
Jeanine Eichenholtz, Secretary
David Parker, Treasurer
Myra Sullivan, Corresponding Secretary
PTA Executive Board Trial Hendrick Hudson
Antoinette Bio, Co-Chair
Dana Goyer, Co-Chair
Allison Hoban, Vice President
Tanitra Watson, Vice President
Alana Silverman, Vice President
Mariela Carrasquillo, Vice President
Katie Riley Strummer, Treasurer
Rebecca Chase Petit, Corresponding Secretary
Jessica Berbick, Secretary