Header block

Cambridge-Greenwich Police Department

add Row
add block
Row 1
5 Minutes Read

School Buses, Safety and The Revival of School Rhythms

As summer comes to an end in Cambridge-Greenwich, it is not only the golden hues of the falling leaves that mark the beginning of a new school year, but also the vibrant energy of the children returning to school. There is a palpable sense of excitement in the air as backpacks are filled and alarm clocks are set. However, there is one responsibility that each community member shares: ensuring the safety of our young learners. While you drink your morning coffee and watch the leaves fall, remember that our children are beginning yet another academic journey.

The School Bus: A Symbol of Trust

Our yellow school bus is a symbol of safety, an emblem of our road system. It is an important part of many children's journey to independence, a rite of passage, but the journey is safeguarded by rules that we, as a community, must respect.

Did you know that students are about 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a bus instead of traveling by car?   

When the yellow stop sign is out and the flashing lights of the bus are on, this is a clear directive for all drivers to halt. This brief pause in our day ensures that children are able to board and disembark safely.

Creating a Safe Environment in School Zones

School zones are bustling places of education and activity. While they offer an environment for children to learn valuable life skills, it's crucial for both students and community members to be aware of safety rules and regulations.

The Following Advice is For Drivers:

Keep an eye out for children at all times, especially when they are near schools, bus stops, and residential areas, and always be on the lookout for them.

  • Seeing Yellow and Red: Flashing lights mean the bus is currently picking up or dropping off students. At this time, it's not just a courtesy to stop – it's the law. All drivers, regardless of direction, must come to a halt, bringing your vehicle to a complete standstill, until the red lights are turned off and no longer flashing. You should stop regardless of which direction you are coming from. This is important because children can be easily distracted and may not be aware of their surroundings. 
  • Be sure to observe the school zone speed limit. When you adhere to the school zone speed limit, you will have more time to react to unexpected situations. The school zone speed limit is lower than the regular speed limit because it creates a safer environment for children. Lower speeds give you more time to slow down or stop if a child suddenly appears in the street or runs out in front of your car. 
  • Keep Distractions Away: Try to avoid distractions like mobile phones and other electronic devices. Even a split second of distraction can have disastrous results. Research has shown that even a momentary distraction can cause a person to lose focus, miss important cues, and make mistakes.

Advice for Pedestrians and Students:

Use Crosswalks: Whenever you cross a street, cross at a crosswalk or intersection designated for this purpose. Make sure to look both ways and use a sidewalk if available. Don't cross when the signal is red or does not indicate it is safe to cross. Follow the instructions of any crossing guards or police officers. 

  • Be Seen: Make sure that you stay visible while walking in low light conditions by wearing reflective clothing or using a flashlight. Don't cross between parked cars or other obstacles. Be aware of your surroundings and watch for vehicles that may not be paying attention. 
  • Pay Attention: Keeping mobile phones and other electronic devices tucked away when crossing streets will help you stay safe. 
  • Make sure you walk, don't run: Always walk on sidewalks and paths. If you are walking on the road, make sure you face the traffic.


There are legal and financial consequences for vehicle operators who pass a school bus while the school bus is stopped for the purpose of dropping off or picking up passengers with red lights on the school bus flashing.

  • First conviction - fine of $250-$400 and/or up to 30 days in jail
  • Second conviction within 3 years - fine of $600-$750 and/or up to 180 days in jail
  • Third conviction (or more) within 3 years - fine of $750-$1000 and/or up to 180 days in jail

*Five points will be added to the operator's driving record for each conviction.

In 2019, a law was passed allowing school districts and municipalities to use stop-arm cameras on school buses. When a school bus is stopped to drop off or pick up passengers, and its red lights are flashing, drivers may be penalized for passing the bus while it is stopped.

  • First violation - $250 penalty
  • Second violation within 18 months - $275 penalty
  • Third violation (or more) within 18 months - $300 penalty

Education as a Means of Empowerment

In Cambridge-Greenwich, the back-to-school season is also a time when the community is educated on safety. Education is key to effective safety. We encourage children to participate in safety workshops, where they can learn about road crossings, traffic signals, and the importance of wearing reflective clothing. It is also a time for parents to be briefed on traffic patterns, carpooling, and rules of the school bus.

A Community's Pledge

The Cambridge-Greenwich community has an important role to play in ensuring the safety of its children. Businesses often partner with schools, sponsoring safety signs or reflective gear. In addition, the police department offers programs in which officers interact with students in an engaging manner in order to educate them about the importance of safety.

A Final Word

The back-to-school season in Cambridge-Greenwich is a testament to the community's spirit. It is a time when collective efforts shine, making sure that every child's journey to school is as safe and enjoyable as possible. Let's pledge to keep our eyes open, our speeds slow, and our children safe. Together, we can make Cambridge-Greenwich the safest school communities.

For More Information:

New York State DMV website

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website

New York State Driver’s Manual

Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) website  


Write A Comment

add Row
Row 2
Disclaimer: The content published on this blog is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal advice or an endorsement of any particular course of action. The information provided is based on general principles and may not be applicable to individual circumstances. For personalized legal advice or assistance, please consult with a qualified attorney. The views expressed in guest posts are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Village of Cambridge Police Department.
add Row
add block