ALBANY – Lawmakers in Albany on Tuesday said they’ve reached a deal that would allow school bus cameras to record motorists who don’t stop when students are getting on or off their buses.
Under the plan, school districts could opt to install the cameras, which are typically mounted to the stop arm device that swings out and displays a “Stop” sign.
Former Sen. Cathy Young was a sponsor of the School Bus Camera Safety Act bill prior to leaving the Senate earlier this year. In 2018 she explained why it was so important to put in place.
“As every parent knows, there are an endless number of threats to our children’s safety that cause worry and concern. Yet, crossing the neighborhood road to get on or off the school bus shouldn’t be at the top of that list,” Young said. “New York, like every state in the nation, has a law making it illegal for motorists to pass stopped school buses – a law that was passed to safeguard student safety. Yet, statistics tell us that an alarming number of drivers – upwards of 50,000 each day – recklessly disregard this law, senselessly putting countless children at risk in the process.”
“The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that approximately five children are killed every year by motorists who pass stopped school buses and several times that number are injured. These figures do not include the countless ‘near-misses’ that are a frequent occurrence. These are needless and unacceptable risks that underscore why this legislation is crucial,” Young added.
Currently, motorists who pass stopped school buses can only be issued a ticket if a police officer witnesses the violation. The fine is $250. Because it is impossible for law enforcement to patrol every bus stop daily, very few violators face any consequences for their dangerous behavior.
The legislation sponsored by Young addressed this problem by allowing school districts and school bus companies to install automated cameras to detect and capture images of vehicles that fail to stop when the stop arm of the bus is extended to pick up or discharge students. It allows the evidence taken from the cameras to be used by police agencies in prosecuting violators and issuing fines.
On Tuesday Gov. Cuomo said he would sign the measure, adding that the “safety of our children is paramount, and we are committed to ensuring our youngest New Yorkers make it to and from school safely and that motorists who endanger these students are held accountable for their reckless actions.”
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