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Back to school means remembering school traffic laws

WRVO News (file photo)

It’s back to school week in central and northern New York. And that means law enforcement is taking steps to make sure the roads are safe for kids going to school.

North Syracuse Police Sgt. Jeff Tripp says it’s the same story every September. Officers start handing out tickets to motorists who speed in school zones, or pass school buses that are stopped with red lights blinking

"People are so used to the summer. It’s vacation time, they don’t look at the signs. So now that it’s back to school, they have to realize there’s a school zone sign. The lights are activated and they have to slow down,” said Tripp.

His department along with others in central New York will begin an information campaign the first week of school, passing out flyers.

"And then we’re going to go to our enforcement stage, where we will have a zero tolerance policy. Not only will we be using regular patrols, but using grant funded patrols enforce the speed in a school zone. We will be following school buses around to make sure there’s no violations of anyone passing any of the school buses with red lights.”

It soon could be easier in New York state for authorities to catch individuals who pass the school buses when they have their lights on, according to Onondaga County traffic safety coordinator Debbie Kogut.

"The New York State Pupil Transportation Association is working very diligently to get a law passed to be able to add cameras to the stop arms, to catch the folks who are flying by and not stopping for the red lights.”

Kogut says there are state Senate and Assembly versions of the bill, and the association believes it has enough support to pass the legislation in the next legislative session.

There are estimates that 50,000 drivers a day illegally pass school buses with warning lights on in New York State.