Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation (S.4524B/A.4950B) at the beginning of this week, authorizing school districts to install stop-arm cameras on school buses in order to catch drivers who unlawfully pass a stopped school bus and ensure the safety of New York's students.
"No parent should ever have to worry that their child's bus ride to and from school is anything other than safe and easy," Governor Cuomo said. "By signing this measure into law, we are providing school districts the tools they need to hold reckless drivers accountable and advancing New York State's bold initiatives to keep our schoolchildren safe."
"We are committed to ensuring the safety of our students getting to and from school," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "This legislation will allow for the installation of cameras on school buses to crack down on drivers who illegally pass them on the road, putting young people's lives in danger. The effort builds on our other progressive policies to protect students and all New Yorkers from harm."
Drivers caught on camera passing a stopped bus would face $250 tickets, with higher fines for repeat violators.
In New York State, approximately 1.5 million students ride school buses to and from school every year, and out of concern for their safety, it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus. However, Operation Safe Stop in April 2018, the one-day in which law enforcement targeted offenders passing a stopped school bus, exposed that hundreds of people ignore this law and over 850 people were ticketed. This amounts to someone passing a stopped school bus over 150,000 times in a 180-day school year, endangering the safety of schoolchildren in every corner of this state. The legislation will hold drivers accountable and continues the Governor's history of leadership in student safety by ensuring that students are safe on their way to and from school.
Governor Cuomo recognizes that the safety of our children is our highest priority. Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to reinstate the speed camera program in New York City and expand the number of authorized school speed zones from 140 to 750. The bill also expanded the hours of the program to weekdays between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Additionally, in 2016 Governor Cuomo modernized the New York's school safety laws to increase student safety. The updated laws required school districts to designate a point of contact in case of emergency, increase training requirements for faculty and staff and update safety drills to include a lock down event.
Senator Tim Kennedy said, "Every day across New York State, 50,000 drivers decide to deliberately break the law and pass a stopped school bus, putting our children's lives and safety at risk. This is simply unacceptable. By enacting this comprehensive legislation that ensures stricter enforcement of these crimes, we're sending a strong message: if you pass a stopped school bus in New York, you're going to get caught, you're going to be fined, and you're going to be held accountable. I thank the Governor for signing this bill, which will undoubtedly save lives, and for prioritizing the safety of New York's students."
Assembly Member William B. Magnarelli said, "Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, New York has enacted some of the nation's strongest protections for school children. This legislation is an enormous step forward in creating safer commutes to and from school. I applaud the Governor for signing this measure and look forward to working with him to continue our states progress in school safety."