NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — One local school district is trying to stop drivers from illegally passing school buses. North Tonawanda Schools, this month, is issuing warning letters to drivers, with fines to start next month, that begin at $250.

New cameras have been installed on the driver side of school buses in NT. New cameras have also been installed inside to monitor behavior on school buses.

NT has more than 20 school buses in the district.

“We’re excited to have it, because any added safety feature that we can add is always a great enhancement for us,” said Gregory Woytila, the superintendent of North Tonawanda Schools.

It is the law that if you see flashing red lights on a school bus you are to stop. But, school bus drivers say numerous times a week, they see drivers illegally passing school buses during school arrival and dismissal times. Thankfully, there have been no incidents and no near misses. So, this is a proactive safety program that the district and the city are implementing.

“This was a layer on security, safety and a way that the city could work with the school district,” said North Tonawanda Mayor Austin Tylec.

Here’s a breakdown of the penalties: $250 for the first violation; $275 for a second violation (if committed within an 18-month period of the first offense) and $300 for a third violation (if committed within an 18-month period of the first offense).

“It would ultimately be sent our police department and they would review if it’s something illegal, something not illegal and go through the process of ticketing them,” Tylec said.

City officials say getting one of these violations does not add points to your license and that the cameras were free to the district.

If you’re caught illegally passing a school bus in North Tonawanda you can expect a fine with pictures of your car and license plate, and directions on how to pay up. Next week, the school district says there will be a robocall to NT families Pre-K to 12th Grade.

The school district and the city are partnering with Bus Patrol America, LLC in Virginia — 100 percent of contested violations are collected by the local courts — 100 percent of non-contested violations are collected by the school bus camera provider.

NT is the latest local school district to implement a school bus camera program — Niagara Falls did it a couple years ago.

“We have signs that are going to be posted along the perimeter of the city notifying people that these cameras do exist,” Tylec said, “And of course, we hope everyone just follows the rules of the law.”

Woytila says next week there will be a robocall to school families Pre-K to 12th Grade.

Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.