Most drivers have seen someone ignore the flashing red lights on a school bus. Those violators may not escape penalty as easily as before now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a law allowing school districts to install cameras on the stop-arms that swing out from the buses.
In signing the law Tuesday, Cuomo said parents should not have to worry about their children's safety during their rides to and from school.
In April of last year, police departments across New York executed the one-day Operation Safe Stop, targeting people who drive past stopped buses. Officers ticketed 850 drivers that day. State transportation officials estimate that motorists illegally pass stopped school buses tens of thousands of times each day in New York.
There has been a lot of concern about student safety statewide, with Albany allowing speed cameras around schools in New York City. Installation of the bus cameras will require time and money from districts. The camera would be on arms that would extend automatically whenever a bus stops.
Buffalo uses First Student as its bus supplier. Senior Director of Corporate Communications Chris Kemper says his company works with districts that have the cameras and others that don't.
"Oftentimes, motorists do not pay attention to stop-arms, which, of course, is the intent of this. So, that is a very important thing to highlight and emphasize, especially as we head back into back to school season," Kemper said.
Kemper says the next steps are up to the districts.
"Really, it's a district decision. If the district decides that they want cameras on the stop-arm, we'll certainly work with them and our industry partners to make it happen."
Drivers caught on camera passing a stopped bus would face $250 fines.
Seventy-five local officials wrote to lawmakers earlier this year urging them to pass the measure. Buffalo schools spokesperson Elena Cala says the district is studying the legislation.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.