UTICA, N.Y. – New York state passed a law in September allowing municipalities to create laws deterring people from passing stopped school buses.
Oneida County Anthony Picente says locally, he plans to create a program that will install cameras on the bus stop arms, capturing drivers who pass when the arm is out. He is working with the attorney’s office to draft a local law that would punish drivers who are caught passing the stopped buses.
“Oneida County is committed to protecting the safety of our children through all available means,” Picente said. “That drivers continue to endanger the lives of students by ignoring the stop signs and lights of school buses is inexcusable. I encourage all of our school districts to participate in the program this new local law will establish so that we can ensure these deeds never go unpunished.”
The county plans to hire a company that will install the cameras and recording equipment on buses at no cost to participating school districts. The vendor will receive a percentage of the fines and penalties collected instead of charging up front for installation.
The cameras will be set to activate if motion sensors detect a car passing when the stop arm is out. The video will be reviewed by a company representative, who will then send the driver a citation that will be the equivalent of a parking ticket.
Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol says his office will also have access to review the violations right after they happen, so they can confirm the citations.
"It'll be a complete 180 for us. We're actually going to get these videos nearly real time. At the end of bus tour, that video is going to be sent to the sheriff's office. Any vehicles that passed that school bus, we'll have a sworn member of the Sheriff's Office Law Enforcement Division. We'll actually be the witness on them, because you have to have a police officer witness the violation. Once they sign off on that, then obviously a summons is produced and it's mailed to the violator,” said Maciol.
The fine for a first offense is $250, and a second incident occurring within 18 months is $275. It will cost offenders $300 for the third fine and any committed after that.
No points or license suspensions will be associated with the violations.
A $25 fine will also be incurred if the driver fails to respond to the ticket, which could ultimately affect the offending vehicle’s registration. Failure to respond can also result in further action in criminal court or the traffic violation bureau.
The law will be voted on by the county Board of Legislators on Feb. 12.