Today is the first day of school for many kids across the Hudson Valley. That means local roads will be filled with school buses figuring out their route for the first time. It can be frustrating so take a deep breath, give yourself some extra time and keep in mind these four driving rules that most people forget about.

When stopping for a bus you must be at least 20 feet away.
Stopping too close to a school bus is against the law in New York. The rules states you must remain a minimum of 20 feet from the back or front of a school bus when stopping.  20 feet is a lot of space, so make sure you give yourself plenty of breathing room. If you're any closer, you could get a ticket.

In New York you have to stop for a school bus, even when it's on the other side of a divided highway.
This is the number one rule that most drivers fail to follow. New York is one of the only states in America that makes it illegal for drivers to pass a school bus with its flashing lights even if it's across a divided road. That means on roads like Route 211 or Route 9 you must always stop, even if you're on the opposite side of traffic. You may think this is silly, but it doesn't matter.  Keep your eyes open for buses on both sides of the highway or you might crash into a rule follower in front of you who's stopped in the middle of the road.

Even after the school bus doors close you still cannot legally pass.
Even if it's obvious that all children have left the bus and are safely in their homes you still cannot pass if the bus' lights continue to flash. Sometimes bus drivers may be disciplining students or checking on something inside the bus. You'll be breaking the law if you drive around. But what if the driver obviously forgets to turn off their flashers? Well, you're just going to have to sit there and wait.  Honking also works.

First time offenders don't get a pass.
If you fail to follow the traffic laws for school buses you could receive fines from $250 to $400. In addition, you'll get an automatic five points on your license and could possibly serve 30 days in jail. That's for first time offenders. There's no three-strikes rule when it comes to school bus safety.

So be careful out there on the roads and keep your eyes out for those school buses. We want everyone to have a safe (and ticket-free) school year.

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