Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Derek Felon
The bill allows for the use of mobile cameras mounted on school buses, as well as stationary cameras.
By Forum Staff
A recently proposed piece of legislation aims to enhance student safety while nabbing drivers that fail to stop for a school bus displaying its stop sign in the act.
Under current Empire State law, a ticket for illegally passing a stopped school bus displaying a red visual signal can be issued only by a police officer who witnesses the violation. This bill, which was introduced last month in the Assembly, provides for additional enforcement options by authorizing a demonstration program to allow local governments to impose liability on the owners of motor vehicles for the failure of the drivers of such vehicles to comply with the law prohibiting the overtaking and passing of stopped school buses displaying stop signals. The program allows for the use of mobile cameras mounted on school buses, as well as stationary cameras, with the cost to be borne solely by the municipalities.
“This bill will expand the enforcement tools available and seeks to significantly lessen the numbers of violations that continue to compromise the health, safety and well-being of our students who ride school buses,” said a cosponsor of the bill, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Howard Beach).
Several other states, including Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Iowa, Virginia, Connecticut, and Washington have enacted similar legislation in response to a growing national concern over illegal passing, or “stop arm violations,” Pheffer Amato noted.
“We recently experienced a horrible incident in Broad Channel in which a driver totally ignored a school bus warning sign and struck a child exiting the bus. The child suffered serious injury and could have been killed,” said Broad Channel Civic Association President Dan Mundy. “It is a clear example that some motorists do not respect the bus warning indicator and that additional enforcement actions should be available to law enforcement to address those who would put our children in harm’s way.”
Some studies have estimated that more than 50,000 drivers throughout New York on a single school day illegally pass stopped school buses, according to the Assembly.
“The use of school bus photo violation monitoring systems (cameras) is necessary to prevent further deaths and injuries caused by dangerous motorists who ignore current law,” wrote bill sponsor Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli (D-Syracuse).
“The Heart of Rockaway supports the bill 110 percent. The safety of our children is endangered with reckless drivers not stopping when the school bus sign is open,” added Edwin Williams, 1st vice president of The Heart of Rockaway Civic. “I am hoping the State Legislature does the right thing and passes this bill.”
The measure is currently under review in the Assembly Committee on Codes.