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New tool available for school districts to catch people who pass school buses

Ellen Abbott
School districts in New York can now mount cameras on the outside of school buses to catch drivers who illegally pass a stopped bus

School districts in New York have a new tool to catch drivers who pass school buses that are stopped to drop off or pick up kids.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law last month that lets school districts attach cameras to the stop arms of school buses that will videotape violations. Fayetteville-Manlius Superintendent Craig Tice said his district has already installed cameras on some buses for this new school year.

"We have outfitted all new buses with stop arm cameras with the idea that the entire fleet will be brought up to speed with those," said Tice.

Onondaga County Sheriff Gene Conway said it’s a big boost to the yearly start of school traffic safety message, emphasizing that drivers need to pay attention to school speed zones, and avoid passing a bus that’s stopped to let on or drop off kids. He said it also augments a Sheriff’s Department ride along program that puts officers on buses.

"It’s necessary unfortunately. We continue to have people who just disregard school buses. And while we attempt to place officers on the buses, having cameras will give that opportunity to catch more violators," Conway said.

One fan of the new cameras is Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick.

"So that when someone walks in and gets a ticket from an officer and gives my office a song and dance about 'Wow, we really didn’t pass it.' 'They confused me with somebody else.' Sorry, there’s the video tape," said Fitzpatrick.

According to the governor's office, in April 2018, 850 drivers were ticketed for passing a stopped school bus in a single day.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.