Motorists illegally passing school buses

SINCLAIRVILLE – The phrase “Stop for the Reds and Save a Life” is the motto for the transportation department at Cassadaga Valley, but it seems not many people are listening.

During the school board meeting held in the multi-purpose room Monday night, there was quite a stir among the board members and administration about the problem faced when bus drivers go to and fro on Route 60.

Transportation Super-visor Bob Gilkinson has been keeping a record of incidents involving people speeding past buses.

“There have been 53 complaints by bus drivers of people speeding past them while their red lights are blinking since Jan. 13,” he said. “And 45 of those incidents have been on Route 60.”

Vice President Jeanne Oag said she is fed up with motorists passing buses with red lights blinking.

“When those red lights are flashing you have to stop,” she said.

Gilkinson noted that recently there have been 21 motorists in one week who did this.

“Law enforcement has told us to tell our drivers if they see this happening they need to get the description and license plate of the vehicle,” he said. “This is a difficult task for our drivers when they are trying to keep the focus on the kids and their safety, which is our main task.”

Gilkinson pointed out there is no time for bus drivers to get all this information and keep the children safe at the same time.

“The drivers go up to 60 miles per hour when passing these buses,” he said.

Gilkinson said they have been working really hard to train students and drivers about the safety of loading and unloading passengers from the school buses.

“Students and drivers have been phenomenal, ” he said. “We are doing everything to keep them safe and this is out of hand.”

Gilkinson has been working at Cassadaga Valley for five years and believes this year it has gotten worse.

“I don’t know if it is because electronic devices are making them more distracted, but this is terrible,” he said. “I never remember it being this bad.”

Gilkinson said sometimes these cars whip by so fast -three or four in a row – and you can’t even see their plates.

President S. Carl Perry agreed with the problem.

“This is a serious safety issue, “he said. “Our drivers have a hard enough job transporting students without having to deal with this.”

There are 13 district buses and four non-district buses; the three drivers that complain the most are the ones who drive Route 60.

“It is overwhelmingly worrisome and is continuing to get worse,” Gilkinson said. “There was one account last year of an accident involving a distracted driver rear-ending another driver and slamming them into a bus.”

Gilkinson said Route 60 is definitely the biggest problem.

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