JAMESTOWN — Fulfilling a law signed last year to catch drivers illegally passing school buses, the Jamestown School Board authorized district officials to negotiate an agreement with the City of Jamestown to install cameras on all district school buses.
In August of last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law authorizing the use of cameras on school bus swing arms to record and then charge drivers for illegally and unsafely passing stopped school buses.
Earlier this month, board members approved having School Superintendent Kevin Whitaker and Board President Paul Abbott reach an accord with the city. The two officials have previously met with city officials to discuss the plan.
The discussion considered having the city, or a vendor of the city’s choice, install the cameras at no costs to the district. The city, or vendor, would then, in payment, receive any money collected through fines from drivers successfully prosecuted for illegally passing a stopped school bus.
“In an effort to address the continued violation of motor vehicle operators illegally overtaking or passing school buses and placing students at risk of injury or death, the New York State Legislature passed and the Governor signed legislation amending the Vehicle and Traffic Law providing for the installation and use of safety cameras on school buses and allowing for the adoption of procedures to adjudicate owner’s liability for an operator illegally overtaking or passing a school bus,” the Board’s agenda resolution said.
Drivers caught on camera passing a stopped bus would face $250 tickets, with higher fines for repeat violators. The cameras, mounted on the stop sign that extends outward whenever a bus is stopped, will automatically record each vehicle that passes it illegally.
State transportation officials have estimated motorists illegally pass stopped school buses tens of thousands of times each day in New York. During a one-day crackdown on the problem in May, 2019, police around the state issued 626 tickets for illegally passing a school bus.
School buses transport 2.3 million children in New York state each school day, according to state figures.
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