May 14, 2013


When in doubt, just stop and wait. Kings Point (Nassau) Police Department issued a ticket under section 1174-a of the Vehicle and Traffic Law to an unfortunate driver who, rightfully, had doubt. The scene is a four-way intersection with each corner controlled by a stop sign. The driver was traveling eastbound on Steamboat Road and came to a full stop at the intersection before making a right turn (south). There was, however, a stopped school bus on the opposite corner of Steamboat Road heading in the opposite direction (west). After stopping at the stop sign, the driver made a right hand turn onto Kings Point Road, away from the school bus which was stopped, just to be absolutely clear, on the other side of the intersection on Steamboat Road. The driver was heading away from the intersection and did not meet or overtake the school bus as they made the right turn at the corner of the intersection at which point he was traveling perpendicular to the school bus, and away from the school bus. TICKET!

Thankfully, the ticket was dismissed by the Kings Point Justice Court. The driver did not pass or meet the bus in any way. The Court noted that VTL §1174(a) is not violated every time one fails to stop for a school bus they encounter on the road. The bus must be stopped to pick up or discharge passengers and has indicated so with flashing red lights or a stop sign to alert other cars on the road. The statute is meant to protect against cars continuing past a bus which is stopped, since passing a school bus at that time risks hitting passengers (generally children) who are getting on or off the bus. The case is People v Giambanco, and can be read in full at the link below.

Interestingly, in the early 1960s, Counsel for the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles sent letters to Counsel for the Sheriff's Department, in Syracuse, N. Y., dated September 13, 1963, and to Frank J. McHenka, District Supervisor, Binghamton, N. Y., dated February 21, 1964, clearly indicating that the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles did not regard the statutory language in question as requiring traffic in all directions to come to a halt, but only the traffic approaching the stopped school bus from the front and rear. People v. Salzberg, 47 Misc 2d 866 (1965)


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