HomeSafetyNew York State Amends School Bus Camera Law Following Court Rulings

New York State Amends School Bus Camera Law Following Court Rulings

An update to the New York State stop-arm camera law closes a loophole that previously let motorists off the hook despite being caught on a camera passing a stopped school bus.

One such motorist, Alfred Croce, appealed a judgment from the District Court of Suffolk County ordering him to pay a $250 fine because he owned a vehicle that failed to stop. The case was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of New York.

Croce stated that the stop-arm camera “failed to prove that the bus was a school bus marked and equipped as required under the statute (see Vehicle and Traffic Law § 375 [20], [21-c]) or that it had stopped for the purpose of picking up or discharging passengers (see Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1174 [a]),” the court case states.

The footage did not show “proof” that the bus was properly marked and equipped with colored flashing signal lamps, that “SCHOOL BUS” was written on the rear emergency door in black letters, or that the school bus had stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging passengers, among other cosmetic characteristics. The state supreme court ordered that the judgment against Croce be reversed along with his court costs.

Several other court cases followed, citing People v. Croce.

A provision in the state budget, adopted on April 20 and in effect immediately, addresses those issues. Now, the law originally passed in 2019 allowing stop-arm cameras on school buses, reportedly includes a “rebuttable presumption” that the vehicle being passed is a school bus and meets all requirements of being such a vehicle. The school bus must have a valid inspection certification, which is required for every New York state school bus, to meet all requirements.

Related: School Bus Safety Resources
Related: Cuomo Adds School Bus Stop Arm Camera, Seat Belt Requirements in N.Y. Budget
Related: (Recorded Webinar) Caught on Camera: How Stop-Arm Programs Prevent Illegal Passing
Related: Georgia Gov Signs Law Following Fatal Illegal Passing Incident
Related: Updated: Arkansas Man Arrested After Illegally Passing School Bus, Injuring Student

Additionally, the original school bus camera law states that the cameras are not to film children. In response, the legislature added new language that presumes students are in the process of loading or unloading from the bus based on footage showing the red lights flashing and stop-arm activated.

Steve Randazzo, the chief growth officer for camera company BusPatrol, said state legislation nationwide should be consistent to close loopholes that can be exploited.

“The contents of the program are about child safety and changing behavior,” he said. “And you can only do that by holding motorists accountable for breaking the law. So, if there’s a loophole for getting out of that, then the program doesn’t do what is intended, which is to create that negative repercussion so that people think twice before they drive recklessly around the school bus.”

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