New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

New York Daily News Long Island bus camera pilot program shows reckless drivers brazenly blowing past stopped school buses as NYC weighs program by Denis Slattery

Long Island bus camera pilot program shows reckless drivers brazenly blowing past stopped school buses as NYC weighs program

ALBANY — The flashing red lights and stop sign should be enough – but a staggering number of drivers blatantly ignore the warnings and blow past stopped school buses on a daily basis, according to video obtained by the Daily News on Friday.

Days after state lawmakers reached deal on bill that will let cops ticket reckless drivers captured on bus-mounted cameras, proponents say the compilation video shows just important the new law will be for schoolkids in the city and across the state.

In clip after clip, car after car rolls past stopped school buses as they pick up or drop off students along their routes in East Meadow, Long Island.

During the first week of a pilot program, conducted by BusPatrol, the company behind the technology, and the Logan Bus Company, cameras mounted on nine school buses captured a total of 70 violations.

“The pilot program we have been running in Long Island has presented us with staggering evidence that this unlawful act is entirely too prevalent during the transportation of children,” Logan vice president Corey Muirhead said.

A similar pilot program in a different Long Island school district captured similarly shocking numbers last year.

Bay Shore Schools Superintendent Joseph Bond said cameras mounted on buses in his district caught between 90 and 120 violations a day.

'Out district is only nine square miles," Bond said. “So that just shows you that people are wantonly disregarding the law. I’m incredibly pleased that the Assembly and Senate have woken up to the fact that these numbers are startling and it’s a recipe for disaster."

Applying the rate of violations from East Meadow to the city, where roughly 10,000 buses carry kids to and from school, would mean 15,000 people are potentially passing buses illegally per day or about 2.7 times million per school year, putting kids across the five boroughs in danger.

While it’s currently illegal in New York state to pass a stopped school bus, a law enforcement officer must physically witness the violation to ticket the offender. Under the new law, if a bus is illegally passed, a camera, mounted on the swinging stop sign or affixed to the side of the bus, turns on, capturing the driver’s license plate.

The picture is then sent to local authorities who dole out fines, but no moving violations or points would be issued. The fines would be used to pay for the cameras and GPS units mounted on the buses.

“The law is there for a reason and the stop sign goes out to keep our kids safe as they’re crossing the street and the fact that folks would keep going, endangering everyone’s child, it could be anybody’s child out there, it’s scary,” said Councilman Ben Kallos, who has prepared a bill that would make the city the first municipality to opt-in to the statewide program.

Kallos, a new father himself, applauded the state Legislature, including the bill’s Senate sponsor Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo), for approving the legislation. Gov. Cuomo plans to sign the bill soon.

“Given the number of incidents we’re seeing and the fact that kids lives are in danger every day that we don’t do this, I see this moving just as fast as when we authorized adding more red light cameras near schools.”

Muirhead said the Logan fleet, which includes about 2500 buses in the five boroughs, is ready to get on board with a Big Apple rollout.

“We look forward to running this pilot program in the boroughs of New York City and gathering more data to show the necessity of continued attention to these devices but most of all, to assure the safest atmosphere for the children of our future,” he said.

 

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