‘Stop’ scofflaws beware the long arm of… buses

KINDERHOOK– Ichabod Crane School District Transportation Supervisor Dan Doyle told the Board of Education at a board meeting last week that as many as 10 drivers a day pass a district school bus while it’s stopped. A press release from state Senator Catharine Young, a western New York Republican, says that there are “upwards of 50,000 illegal bus passes every day.”

Last June Sen. Young sponsored the School Bus Camera Safety Act, a bill that authorizes the use of automated cameras on school buses to record and issue tickets to motorists who illegally pass a stopped school bus.

Mr. Doyle told the ICC board at the September 11 meeting that the six new buses the district purchased this year have cameras in the stop arms–the signs that extends when the bus is stopped, alerting drivers to stop and wait as students get on or off the bus.

The legislation passed the state Senate but no action was taken on the bill when it got to the Assembly.

According to Mr. Doyle, currently if a driver passes a bus with stop arm out now and a police officer sees it, the officer will issue the driver a ticket. He said the transportation office calls the police if some one passes the bus without an officer present to witness the violation. That person may get a call from the county Sheriff’s Office but cannot be given a ticket. And without a law authorizing the use of these images, the recordings from the new cameras on the stop arm would not be admissible in court.

Currently all the district’s buses have five cameras on board. One of those cameras is set to show the drivers’ view of the road. Mr. Doyle said in a phone interview after the meeting, that the windshield camera can record a driver’s license plate number if there is a traffic issue. He also said that anything recorded by the internal cameras can be used in court. The cameras have night vision, motion sensors and microphones.

Mr. Dolye also said at the September 11 meeting that if the legislation is passed by the state and tickets are given, court fees for that ticket would go to the municipality where the traffic violation happened but the fine for the ticket would go to the school district. The Senate bill would have retained the current fine for a bus pass violation at $250. Unlike situations with police officers involved, the bill would not impose points or imprisonment for convictions, according the Sen. Young’s release.

“Call your legislators,” said Ichabod Crane School Board President Matthew Nelson to the audience at the meeting.

“It is crucial that we make this technology available to school districts to help curb this problem and safeguard our children,” Sen. Young said in a press release. “Implementing stop-arm cameras on buses would have a major impact in reversing this trend. Statistics show declines in violations of between 30 and 50% in states that have adopted the cameras.”

Local legislators for the towns in the Ichabod Crane School District include Senator Kathy Marchione (R-43rd), Assembly members Jake Ashby (R-107th), Didi Barrett (D-106th) and Chris Tague (R-102nd).

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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