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HomeNewsNew York Educational Organization Points to Need for School Bus Cameras Statewide

New York Educational Organization Points to Need for School Bus Cameras Statewide

With a new school year looming in New York, the Community Education Council (CEC) 31 is pushing for traffic cameras on all school buses throughout the state.

In Resolution No. 56, CEC 31 is requesting an evaluation of installing cameras on school-bus stop arms or digital license plate readers to reduce illegal passing in  loading and unloading zones as well as speeding. The same group is behind “Aniya’s Law,” which is named for a child killed in June by a speeding motorist on Staten Island.

According to the new resolution, motorists who illegally passed school buses were responsible for killing two New York students and injuring dozens more in the past four years. It also states, “Nationally, 37.7 percent of all student fatalities occur because motorists illegally pass stopped school buses that are discharging children, [and] 74 percent of all fatalities are students under the age of 9.”

CEC 31 board members contend in the resolution that “NYC Department of Transportation studies have shown that the use of ‘red light’ traffic cameras have resulted in fewer injuries and fatalities at intersections due to motorists’ fear of receiving traffic tickets for disobeying steady red signals; we believe the same deterrent will work for motorists passing stopped school buses.”

New York joins several states that are increasingly relying on traffic cameras to crack down on illegal passing and speeding around school buses. In northern Iowa, the non-profit Worth County Development Authority recently donated $150,000 to 12 school districts to outfit buses with new camera equipment in response to the May 10 death of a 7-year-old. Ohio education officials have been looking to add more stop-arm cameras to school buses after a student fatality in 2010. New Jersey has been outfitting school buses with stop-arm cameras since 2006.

Meanwhile, New York State Assembly Bill A7778 is currently being considered by the Assembly Transportation Committee, according to Michael Reilly of the CEC 31. This legislation would facilitate the apprehension and conviction of those who illegally pass school buses and ensure proper prosecution when a child is injured or killed. In addition, Senate Bill 4062 and Assembly Bill A04416 were resubmitted earlier this year to amend state law to make illegal passers liable when said violation is captured on a camera or observed by a school bus driver and authorizes the use of photographic evidence in the prosecution.

“We believe that the implementation of traffic cameras on school bus stop-arms will reduce injuries to our children,” said Reilly. “The cost of implementation to the city of New York would be negligible, since there are existing companies that would provide the equipment and service with no up-front costs.”

Other states, including Rhode Island and Georgia, have passed similar laws to allow the use of video recordings in court for these traffic violations. Massachusetts has similar legislation pending.

During an Operation Safe Stop exercise on March 30, 1,603 traffic tickets were issued throughout New York for passing a stopped school bus — which represents an 11 percent increase from 2010 data. The safety organization reports an even higher occurrence on its website, stating, “An estimated 50,000 motor vehicles illegally pass New York State school buses every day.”

Operation Safe Stop is a cooperative project supported by the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, New York State Education Department, New York Association for Pupil Transportation, New York State School Bus Contractors Association, state and local law enforcement agencies and the student transportation industry.

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