School Bus Safety Device Hits Skid In Albany

New Cameras Catch Illegal Passing Of Busses

BUFFALO - Even a good idea can find itself stuck in legislative traffic in New York's state capital.

Assemblyman Mickey Kearns says, “People think sometimes that laws are easy to make in Albany, but it’s something that has to be thoroughly looked at. I support it one-hundred percent."

What Kearns would like to see is what more than a dozen states already have: stop-arm cameras. Mounted to the outside of school busses, the cameras take video of vehicles that illegally pass a stopped bus with its red lights flashing.

The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee estimates school busses are passed illegally in New York 50,000 times a day.

Stop-arm cameras in Austin, Texas this week captured a pair of car-pedestrian accidents where students were hit by vehicles illegally passing stopped school busses. For parents and state lawmakers, the technology is attractive.

“I think everything needs to be on the table. It’s about protecting our kids. We have to put this legislation through to insure that individuals breaking the law are held accountable," says State Senator Tim Kennedy.

Olean Republican Cathy Young is the chief sponsor of the State Senate version of the School Bus Camera Safety act which would authorize stop-arm cameras in New York.

Under the law, the owner of a vehicle would get a $250 violation notice if their car or truck was spotted on-camera illegally passing a bus. The law would also allow school districts and bus companies to contract with third-party vendors to get the cameras. Cost for a single bus can run up to $4,000.

But Kearns worries about stop-arm camera suppliers profiteering off of the law.

"We want to have the cameras on there for the safety. That’s the most important thing. We don’t want this to be a money-maker," says Kearns.

The West Seneca Democrat says questions about how the cameras would be paid for and who would get the money generated by the fines are the reasons the legislation is not currently moving forward.

 


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