According to NYSED.gov, during the regular school year “approximately 2.3 million pupils, or 10% of the nation’s pupils ride our 50,000 school buses each day.” With the school year coming to a close, more school buses are on the roads than ever as they transport students to a variety of fun-filled educational and sporting events and school field trips.
With our state transporting 10% of our nation’s students on school buses, it is critical that our state legislators be urged to pass a bill that is in the working in Albany. The School Bus Camera Safety Act would allow school districts to use cameras on school buses to detect those cars that are illegally passing or overtaking a school bus.
According to State Senator Catharine Young (R.C.I-Olean) who introduced the legislation, “The number of school buses that are passed illegally each day is startling and something must be done to protect the innocent children who are traveling to and from school.” Young continues to state, “Far too often these drivers are never caught for committing such a dangerous violation and students are continually put in harm’s way. This bill would bring these drivers to justice and prevent them from getting away with such egregious crimes.”
The cameras would turn on once the stop arm of the bus is extended when the bus comes to a stop to pick up or let off students. Images of the car and license plate would be captured and used to issue a ticket to the registered owner of the car. Currently, a ticket can only be issued by a police officer witnessing the violation.
The proposed legislation includes the following provisions:
- Retains the current fine structure for violations witnessed by a police officer.
- Establishes a minimum fine of between $250-$400 with no points for a first violation when the violation is based on the camera-based evidence, with increasing penalties for repeat offenses.
- Requires suspension of the license of a motorist who has been convicted multiple times.
- Makes it a crime of aggravated assault when a motorist injures another individual as a result of illegally passing a stopped school bus.
- Makes it a crime of criminally negligent homicide, a class E felony, when a motorist takes the life of another individual as a result of illegally passing a stopped school bus and assault in the 3rd degree, also a class E felony, if injury to another person is caused.
- Establishes a School Bus Safety Education Program fund derived from fines collected from violations.
The illegal passing of school buses or ‘stop arm violations’ is a growing concern throughout the nation. So far, eight other states including Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Iowa, Virginia, Connecticut and Washington have enacted similar legislation. Let’s all work together to make New York State the next state to pass this important law and keep our children as safe as we possibly can. We encourage New Yorkers to take action today and urge your state legislators to approve the School Bus Camera Safety Act.
Tags: Bus Accidents
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