New York City Is Poised to Become the Largest School District in the Country to Require Stop-Arm Cameras on All School Buses
Bill by Council Member Ben Kallos Is an Effort to Prevent Irresponsible Drivers Who Illegally Pass Stopped School Buses Endangering Children
New York, NY - Looking to better protect children, a bill being introduced by Council Member Ben Kallos on Wednesday seeks to make New York City the largest school district in the nation to require that stop-arm cameras be installed on school buses to better catch motorists who endanger students by illegally passing school buses during drop off and pick up.
Int. 1724 of 2019 authored by Council Member Ben Kallos comes after a series of high profile instances of drivers around the City caught on video going around stopped school buses. It would require the cameras on all of the city's nearly 10,000 school buses.
According to the NYS Association of School Pupil Transportation, in a study cited by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee as part of Operation Safe Stop, last year an estimated 50,000 drivers throughout New York State illegally passed a stopped school bus every day. Additionally, a study by the National Safety Council showed that 70 percent of deaths related to school buses occur outside of the bus, and it's been found that more school-age pedestrians have been killed during the hour before and after school than any other time of day.
In a recent one-month (26 school day) pilot by the East Meadow School District in nearby Nassau County (conducted by BusPatrol and the Logan Bus Company), 10 school buses captured 615 violations for an average of about 2.3 violations per bus per day (615 violations on 10 buses over 26 school days). Using that violation rate in modeling the New York City school bus fleet, which has roughly 10,000 buses, we can expect to see an estimated 23,000 violations per day or 4.2 million violations per school year in the city.
“Every child must be safe as they get on and off the school bus. It could be anyone’s child at risk from drivers speeding by and worse yet drivers who have actually driven up on sidewalks," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "We are all in a rush to get where we are going, but there is no excuse to put our children at risk. Stop-arm cameras will catch dangerous drivers and automatically issue tickets to keep our children safe."
“It’s time to hold reckless drivers accountable by ticketing those who illegally pass a school bus when the stop-arm is active. As the co-prime sponsor of the legislation, I’m proud to join Council Member Kallos in introducing this important bill that will open the door for better enforcement of irresponsible driving to protect the safety of school children while they’re traveling to and from school. Parents have enough to worry about without having to be concerned for the safety of their children getting on and off the school bus,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education.
While it’s already illegal in New York to pass a stopped school bus, it previously was required that a police officer had to witness the violation to issue a ticket. But the state earlier this year enacted a law that allows localities and school districts to install cameras on school bus arms that capture the license plates of cars that pass stopped buses.
The photos are sent to law enforcement, who determine whether a violation occurred. Tickets are then sent to the vehicle owner. Though the vehicle owners are fined, there are no moving violations or points issued. In other states that allow such technology, repeat offenders are virtually non-existent.
Kallos' bill would require the Department of Education and the Office of Pupil Transport to install stop-arm cameras on all nearly 10,000 school buses.
Under the legislation, the NYPD’s Parking Violation Bureau would enforce fines for first-time offenders ranging from $250 to $275 and $300 for second and third offenders. The bill also requires that some of the funds recouped from the fines be given to the New York City Department of Education.
Once passed the legislation will take effect immediately, requiring the City to issue a Request for Proposal for vendors who could install the cameras most efficiently and cost-effectively.