Sen. Young, Magnarelli Push For School Bus Cameras

ALBANY — State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, and Assemblyman William Magnarelli, D-Syracuse, are asking both chambers of the state Legislature to pass legislation authorizing the use of camera devices on school buses to record and ticket stop-arm violators.

The legislators held a news conference Tuesday to speak about the measure. The state legislative session ends June 20.

“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. Just one month ago, a child in Monsey, New York was hit by a motorist who passed a stopped school bus. Thankfully, in this case, the student’s injuries were minor. However, not every child in that situation is as fortunate: 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.”

Motorists who pass stopped school buses can only be issued a ticket if a police officer witnesses the violation. Because it is impossible for law enforcement to patrol every bus stop daily, Young and Magnarelli said few violators face any consequences for their dangerous behavior.

The legislation sponsored by Young, S.518B, and Magnarelli, A.321B, allows 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. The bill would retain the current financial penalties for stop-arm violations with fines of $250. Unlike situations with police officers involved, the bill would not impose points or imprisonment for convictions.

Fines would cover enforcement and operational costs of the program, with localities receiving the fines directly, and school districts each receiving a portion as needed to absorb direct costs. Participating school districts would also be required to submit reports on the results of the program.

“Our student’s safety is of top concern. We owe it to our children to help protect them as they board and climb off the school bus. This bill will do just that and help protect our children,” Magnarelli said.