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Apalachin Bus Driver Putting Safety First

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APALACHIN, N.Y. -

Missy Creller noticed five cars blow past her bus stop sign over the last week and decided to do something about it. She called the New York State Police, who trailed behind her bus looking for violations.

She doesn't want people to get in trouble, but her number one priority is getting her students to and from school safely. She doesn't want them to worry about whether or not a car might hit them.

"Nobody thinks about the job of a bus driver, but when I let those kids off at their home, the most important thing is making sure they get there safely," said Creller.

She has been a bus driver for 19 years and gets frustrated when cars aren't patient.

"I get really angry because these children are very tiny, we have one's as young as four...if a car is going fast they can't see them," said Creller.

She has a routine that happens at every stop to make sure everyone is safe: 

  • Turns on the yellow lights as she approaches the stop
  • Turns on the red lights and stops
  • The door opens and the stop sign opens up
  • The children walk off the bus 
  • The students look both ways
  • She gives the kids a hand signal to let them know it's safe to cross

Tony Quaranta is the Director of Transportation Owego/Apalachin Central School District and says the number of cars that drive right through the stop sign is too high across the country.

"Over 41,000 times in one day people were passing the yellow school bus. Here in Owego/Apalachin in the past week and a half, we had five drivers pass this [Missy's] bus," said Quaranta.

This number is what prompted Creller to call the police.

There were no violations on the Friday afternoon bus ride and that's a good thing. Driving through the bus' red lights comes with a $250 fine and four points on your license if you are caught. But just because it didn't happen today, doesn't mean school officials aren't looking out for those who break the law.

"Your neighbor's children, your grandchildren, the community's children are getting on and off that school bus and you're endangering their lives every time you pass that yellow bus when the red lights are on," said Quaranta.

The New York Association for Pupil Transportation released the results of a survey that was taken on January 29, 2017.

The results:

  • 35 school districts participated
  • 878 bus drivers were surveyed
  • 727 total passes
  • 88 passes on the right/door side

According to the data, this is the third straight month that there were more than 40,000 illegal passes [based on passing rate].

"These numbers are of serious concern. It's an easy message, stop for the school bus! It's all for the safety of our children," said Peter Mannella, NYAPT Executive Director.

For Missy, the message is simple too; ten or fifteen seconds could change your life forever if you hit a child. Their life is over, this child's, the family, my life. It will all be changed because they couldn't wait the ten or fifteen seconds.