Perhaps before the end of the school year, those drivers who race around stopped school buses with the lights on will be on candid camera. The chairs of the two State Legislature Transportation committees have agreed on a bill to let school buses be equipped with cameras to monitor driver behavior and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will sign it.
Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Tim Kennedy said the bill may pass both houses as early as next week. The South Buffalo Democrat said it is a major problem for student safety.
"I've seen it with my own eyes and I've seen it many times where individuals put children in harm's way because they disregard the law," Kennedy said. "They disregard our children's safety to save a few seconds on the way to some scheduled event. That's absolutely unacceptable."
The proposal before lawmakers would allow school districts to mount cameras on the stop arms of school buses, which extend when buses stop to pick up or drop off students. The bill would take effect 30 days after the governor signs it, pushing the effective date close to the end of this school year.
"The sooner, the better," said Kennedy, "because the statistics that we have seen of 50,000 cars in the State of New York alone that pass these stopped school buses and put our children in harm's way is just an eyepopping figure, mainly due to the fact there has not been enforcement up to this point of individuals passing these buses. That will change with this bill."
There would be heavy traffic fines for those drivers who don't bother to stop as the bus loads or unloads students: $250 fines, with municipalities and school districts splitting the money.
The school district or the private bus operator will have to go over some hurdles for everything to fall into place and install the $7,000 cameras.
"This will be an agreement between the school district and a municipality," Kennedy said. "Law enforcement and the contracting agency that will actually install and implement this school bus camera program and it's done in 15 other states across the nation."