ALBANY — City school districts will soon be allowed to attach camera technology to yellow buses aimed at capturing reckless drivers who whiz past stopped buses, according to a bill Gov. Cuomo signed Tuesday.
Right now only a cop can ticket offenders for $250 a pop, but the legislation grants law enforcement the ability to capture, record and transmit evidence of offenders from the bus itself.
“Every day across New York State, 50,000 drivers decide to deliberately break the law and pass a stopped school bus, putting our children’s lives and safety at risk. This is simply unacceptable. By enacting this comprehensive legislation that ensures stricter enforcement of these crimes, we’re sending a strong message: if you pass a stopped school bus in New York, you’re going to get caught, you’re going to be fined, and you’re going to be held accountable,” said bill sponsor Senator Tim Kennedy.
The legislation ups first time fines from $250, to $275 and $300 for second and third offenders.
School districts can install as many “stop-arm” cameras to buses as they see fit, but localities must first pass a local resolution opting into the program before getting the tech up and running.
City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manattan) announced he already has legislation to introduce at the City Council level authorizing the city to start installations immediately.
His aim is to get cameras on every yellow bus.
“My legislation would force the Department of Education and the Office of Pupil Transport to install stop-arm cameras on city school buses with the capability of issuing electronic fines to drivers who illegally pass school buses while the stop arm is down,” Kallos said.
He insists Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza are the biggest obstacles to the programs’ success.
“We have all seen it happen on our roads, irresponsible drivers going around school buses that have the stop arm in the down position because children are either entering or exiting the bus. This behavior is reckless and should not be tolerated. Now is the perfect time to do whatever we can to teach drivers that this behavior will have punitive consequences.”
The bill takes effect in 30 days.