COLONIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — With the school year fully underway, the South Colonie Central School District is taking steps to better protect students getting on and off of school buses. The district has installed cameras on each bus, allowing them to capture evidence of drivers who illegally pass them.
“Whenever someone passes a school bus, they put children in harm’s way,” said Peter Tunny, the district’s transportation director.
According to a survey conducted by the New York Association for Pupil Transportation, there are over 50,000 illegal passes of stopped school buses each day in the stat, “This is a serious problem and this technology will help us solve that problem,” the association’s executive director said.
In the past, a one-day program in New York called Operation Safe Stop has helped raise awareness about the issue.
While Tunny says the program has been a great way to draw public attention to combatting the issue, the district hoped to have year-round awareness. Enter BusPatrol.
“Every life that is being transported to and from school matters a great deal to everyone in our communities,” said BusPatrol Founder and CEO Jean Souliere.
South Colonie has installed BusPatrol cameras on each of their 59 buses. The cameras utilize artificial intelligence and other technology to observe eight lanes of traffic, capturing any would-be violation.
The cameras begin their observation when a bus driver switches on their amber lights, a sign that they’re coming to a stop shortly. Souliere says this can be one of the most dangerous moments for students, as some drivers try to beat the red lights and stop arm.
From there, the cameras begin creating an “evidence folder”, capturing the behavior of the driver during the periods of time that are typically the most dangerous for students.
Once a violation is deemed to have happened, the evidence is passed to local law enforcement, and the driver who illegally passed will have an opportunity to see video of the violation.
The technology serves as a deterrent, as well as raising awareness for the issue. Souliere says those who are ticketed oftentimes learn their lesson, “Depending on the program, anywhere from 96-98% of people who get a ticket don’t get a second one.”
In the first three weeks of the program in South Colonie, drivers who illegally pass will be given a warning as part of a public awareness campaign. In November, tickets will begin being issued, with a $250 fine for the first violation.
BusPatrol also works with school districts to analyze data of areas that see the most violation, helping them to come up with bus routes that can maximize the safety of students.