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November 12, 2013  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

NYAPT names senator ‘Legislator of the Year’


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NYAPT presented Sen. Catharine Young (second from left) with a Legislator of the Year award. Also pictured (from left) are Peter Mannella, executive director, NYAPT; Pete James, NYAPT chapter director; and Tony Quaranta, NYAPT legislative chair.
<p>NYAPT presented Sen. Catharine Young (second from left) with a Legislator of the Year award. Also pictured (from left) are Peter Mannella, executive director, NYAPT; Pete James, NYAPT chapter director; and Tony Quaranta, NYAPT legislative chair.</p>
ALBANY, N.Y. — The New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) cited Sen. Catharine Young as a 2013 Legislator of the Year.

NYAPT recognized her work primarily because of her introduction of legislation that would allow evidence collected by stop-arm cameras to be used to prosecute motorists who pass stopped school buses illegally.

"Illegal passing of stopped school buses is a real danger to our children. Our students trust that motorists will obey the law and stop for their school buses,” NYAPT President Richard Gallagher said. “It is so important that motorists stop for school buses. If they don't, they should be penalized. Senator Young's proposed law will allow us to apprehend and penalize those who violate the law."

NYAPT estimates that more than 50,000 motorists pass stopped school buses every day of the school year in New York state. In recent surveys of school bus drivers, the incidence of illegal passing was even higher than the 50,000 level. Increasingly, school bus drivers are reporting vehicles passing their buses on the curb or passenger side, where children line up to board the bus and where they step off the bus to return to their homes.

Young's legislation, which is sponsored in the State Assembly by Assembly Member William Magnarelli, would achieve the following objectives if enacted:

•    Authorize the installation of video recording devices on school buses, specifically on or near the stop arm;

•    Authorize the use of images collected by those video recording devices to be used to prosecute individuals who illegally pass stopped school buses;

•     Authorize the installation of video recording devices on school buses, specifically on or near the stop arm;

•    Establish a minimum fine of between $250 and $400 with no points for a first violation when the violation is based on the camera evidence, with increasing penalties for repeat offenses, while retaining the current fine and penalties structure for all violations witnessed by a police officer;

•    Establish a 60-day suspension of a motorist's license for multiple convictions of violating Section 1174;

•    Establish a crime of assault in the third degree when a motorist injures another individual as a result of illegally passing a stopped school bus;

•    Establish a crime of criminally negligent homicide when a motorist takes the life of another individual as a result of illegally passing a stopped school bus;

•    Allows school districts to enter into agreements with local law enforcement agencies in relation to the fines collected through use of video recording devices installed on school buses, including the capacity to receive funds to support costs incurred by the district through the use and maintenance of the cameras;

•    Allow school districts to enter into contracts with private vendors for installation, processing, notifications and other administrative functions related to the enforcement process;

•    Establish a School Bus Safety Education Program fund derived from fines collected from violations of Section 1174 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law.

NYAPT praised Young for her work in bringing together the various elements of this legislation. Executive Director Peter Mannella said that the association has long advocated for a multi-level approach that includes:

1. Increasing public awareness of the laws related to illegal passing;

2. Increasing the penalties for illegal passing, particularly when a child is injured or killed; 

3. Facilitating the use of stop-arm cameras to aid in prosecution.

“Senator Young's legislative proposal will achieve each of those objectives, and we are proud to endorse this legislation," Mannella said. "We will work tirelessly in the upcoming legislative session to get this bill passed."

Mannella added that NYAPT hopes that the legislation will be passed before the 10th commemoration of the death of 8-year-old Mallory Eddy, who was killed on May 21, 2004, by a motorist who passed her stopped school bus on the passenger side.

NYAPT members presented Young with the Legislator of the Year award at a ceremony held in her Olean district office on Oct. 31.

This year, the association also cited Sen. Charles Fuschillo as a Legislator of the Year for his legislation and advocacy related to drug and alcohol testing of school bus drivers.


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