School bus drivers to push for new safety bill

Posted at 5:55 AM, May 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-24 11:06:24-04

Members of the New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) are in Albany Tuesday, asking legislators to pass a bill that would allow school bus companies and school districts to mount cameras on their buses.

The School Bus Camera Safety Act is sponsored by State Senator Catharine Young of Olean and Assemblyman William Magnarelli in Syracuse. If passed, images captured by the mounted cameras could be used as evidence to prosecute drivers who illegally pass school buses. School districts could use state aid to purchase those cameras.

The proposed legislation comes as instances of illegal passing of school buses hit an eight-month high. The NYAPT estimates drivers will illegally pass a school bus 36,857 times in May. That estimate is based on a survey of 2,001 school bus drivers in 74 school districts taken on May 18, 2016. On that day, the surveyed bus drivers reported they were passed 1,480 times. 61 of those passes were on the passenger side of the bus, where students exit and enter.

It is illegal to pass a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing, even when it is on the opposite side of a divided roadway. When a school bus is stopped, drivers must stop no closer than 20 feet away from the bus to allow students safe passage to both sides of the road.

The School Bus Camera Safety Act is currently in the Assembly and State Senate Transportation Committees for review.