School-bus companies in New York are not required to report tickets issued for red light camera violations, a state investigation found, despite nearly 300 tickets being issued in Westchester alone last year.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the findings by his office showed "a serious gap" in state law, saying bus companies should have to report red light camera violations to the state and school districts.
The violations should also be used to evaluate bus drivers, he said.
“Every morning, more than two million New York children are put on school buses by families that trust they’ll be safe," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Unfortunately, New York law has a safety loophole big enough to drive a school bus through.”
The Attorney General’s office subpoenaed 15 school-bus companies in Westchester and Suffolk counties.
About 1,200 violations were issued in Suffolk the last year years, and there were nearly 300 in Westchester last year, Schneiderman said.
The problem, Schneiderman said, is state law doesn't require the violations to be reported to the state Department of Motor Vehicles as part of its oversight of school-bus safety -- even though other records, such as convictions and accidents, must be submitted.
Since tickets from red-light cameras are sent directly to the bus company, they are not treated the same as red-light tickets issued by a police officer -- which would lead to points on a driver's license and a potential ban on driving a school bus, Schneiderman said.
Schneiderman said state law should be changed to require school-bus companies to maintain copies of all red light camera violations; report them to the DMV; and use any violations in its evaluation of drivers.
The state School Bus Contractors Association, which represents the bus companies, said it would review the report.
Safety is the number one priority for this industry. It always is and always has been," said Andre Claridge, a spokesman for the association. "So we’re constantly looking at things to improve safety."
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