COLONIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Albany County-area school districts now have an extra tool in their arsenal for drivers who just don’t get the hint when school buses and their flashing red lights illuminate local roadways.
South Colonie Central School District was the first to install stop arm cameras on all of their buses this Fall semester. They hope the tickets now arriving in mailboxes will make drivers think twice before passing a school bus.
“Sometimes they’re actually passing on the inside of the bus where students are being discharged, and that’s the scary part. We’ve seen it happen where it becomes a deadly situation. We’ve had incidences where our drivers have reacted to pull students back on buses,” says Superintendent Dr. David Perry.
NEWS10 checked in on Wednesday to see how effective the program has been since the cameras went live in late September. Albany County confirms in just a one-month period from November 28 to December 28, the cameras caught and ticketed 923 drivers, equaling $92,300 in county revenue.
That total only equals about 40% of the total ticket cost. The remaining 60% goes to BusPatrol, the company that provided the cameras free to local districts.
Superintendent Perry said that, unfortunately, close to a thousand careless or unaware drivers in one month isn’t so surprising. He says although school buses are statistically the safest transport for children, in South Colonie drivers report their buses are passed an average of five to seven times a day.
“I certainly think Central Avenue is one where people get confused, because there are north and southbound lanes going back-and-forth, east to west. In those areas when a bus stops, all four lanes of traffic need to stop,” he says to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
Meanwhile, both the Bethlehem and Guilderland school districts are preparing to equip their fleets as well. Dr. Perry believes consistency across the board will hopefully lead to safer Capital District drivers. “We understand that we may never get to zero, but our goal would be to really minimize the risk to our students,” he said.