OWEGO (WBNG) — Owego Apalachin School District said every week multiple vehicles are reported for passing stopped school buses that have its blinking stop signs out. The district’s transportation director, Tony Quaranta hopes this is the year the state passes the bill to mount cameras on the outside of school buses.
“It’s a way for law enforcement to help educate the public, and to help enforce the law that you can’t pass the bus with the reds on,” explained Quaranta.
According to the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, about 50,000 vehicles pass school buses in New York everyday.
“We’re seeing an increase not only on the left side, the drivers side, but we’re starting to see an uptick in passers on the right side of the bus,” said Quaranta explaining the dangers of that.
The cameras would be placed on the side of the bus. Quaranta said they would only start recording a wide angle of vehicles nearby once the stop sign(s) on buses are activated.
“Then anybody that passes the bus will be on video passing the bus with the reds out, and then law enforcement can send the registered owner of that vehicle a $250 ticket for passing the bus,” explained Quaranta.
The transportation director said it’s difficult for bus drivers to get information of drivers that illegally pass buses.
“In order to turn someone in you have to get the make, the model, the license plate, the color and be able to identify the driver before you turn it in for police action,” said Quaranta.
While bus drivers are trained to be more focused on the kids, cameras would be able to focus on identifying drivers who break the law and put children at danger.
“Children are at risk when this happens some have been hurt or killed when this occurs,” said State Representative of the 123rd District Donna Lupardo (D).
Lupardo and the rest of the state assembly approved this legislation on Wednesday. Now it’s up to the state senate and Governor Andrew Cuomo to approve the bill.
Mounted cameras on buses are in the governor’s 2020 fiscal executive budget.
“The senate has supported it in the past 10 years so its just a matter of time, we believe,” said Quaranta. “We feel this could be the year this law finally gets signed in
Currently, the first time a driver illegally passes a school, he or she faces at least a $250 fine, five points on their license and potentially up to 30 days in jail. Police officers would still be able to write tickets to drivers in addition to the camera capturing the illegal passing.