ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Drivers in the Capital Region will soon begin sharing the road with school buses again.
This year, there’s a new law designed to protect students, but it’s not without some problems.
The new state law allows districts to put cameras on school bus stop arms, but districts have to ask municipalities to pay for the cameras. However, cities, towns and villages are not required to foot the bill.
The legislation also indicates districts cannot use state aid for the cameras.
“The vote we were facing was whether or not we agree that this is a problem and that we should do something about it,” Sen. Joe Griffo, of Rome, said. “And I think there’s a consensus there – almost unanimity – as to ‘Let’s do something about it.’ It’s then the construct, how is it put together in order to achieve what we want to? And in this case, it’s cumbersome, confusing, and there’s cost associated with it that nobody wants to bear.”
The camera systems could cost a district hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on how many buses are in the fleet. Meanwhile, anyone caught passing a stopped bus with its flashing lights on could face a $250 fine.
Officials estimate tens of thousands of drivers pass school buses every day in New York State.
Stop arm cameras are becoming a popular option for school districts because you can clearly see the driver’s license plate. A school district in Indiana spent $47,000 installing the cameras on all their buses over the summer.
Even though violations are still happening, the hope is that those who are caught learn their lesson before tragedy happens.
According to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, in 2018, more than 108,000 school bus drivers reported that nearly 84,000 drivers passed their buses illegally on a single day.