Area school districts could soon have the option to opt into a program which would add cameras on stop-arm of a school bus. The goal is to catch drivers who don’t stop when a bus has its lights on while dropping off students.
“Across the state, there are 50,000 cars that make a conscious decision to break the law – to pass stopped school buses as they’re transporting our children and put our children’s lives at risk each and every day,” said Sen. Tim Kennedy, who is Chairman of the State Senate’s Transportation Committee.
Today the state legislature came to an agreement which would allow schools to add these cameras on their buses. When the bus stops and the arm swings out, it would activate when a driver fails to stop. Captain Frederic Foels of the City of Tonawanda Police Department told News 4 this will be a big help from a law enforcement standpoint. Without this law in place, the only way a driver can be ticketed for passing a school bus is if a police officer witnesses the incident.
“[It’s] a long time coming,” Foels said. “It’s a great tool to have because without direct knowledge of the officer observing that, it gives us more of an enforcing tool to go after people who don’t stop for a school bus.”
These cameras could cost up to $7,000 – but legislators are currently looking into ways to save the school districts and municipalities from paying, such as making a deal with the camera companies. Foels said at its core, this legislation will be positive for the area.
“It’s just the matter of the mechanics of it as far as the purchase of the actual equipment, and the fine, and the viewing and the whole thing,” he said. “I’m sure there’s a few more details that we really don’t know about, but the basic concept of it, to have a camera on that arm when it swings out, is a great tool for law enforcement.”
This proposal would also increase fines for drivers who break this law. A first offense will be $250, and additional offenses $300. The legislation currently awaits the signature of Governor Cuomo, who said he plans to sign it into law.