TRENTON, N.J. — The New Jersey Senate has passed a bill that would allow video enforcement of school bus stop-arm violations in the state.
S-211, approved in a 30-1 vote on Monday, would permit school districts to contract with a private vendor to install, operate, and maintain stop-arm violation monitoring systems on their school buses.
Motorists who are ticketed based on footage from the stop-arm cameras would be subject to a fine of $300 to $500, with no points assessed.
“We need to show drivers who think they can get away with passing a school bus that they are being watched,” said New Jersey Sen. Jim Holzapfel, a primary sponsor of the bill. “Sadly, this might be the only [way] we get them to stop.”
Under current rules in New Jersey, stop-arm citations are issued if a school bus driver, police officer, or parent records the license plate number of the violator. From 2012 to 2014, there were 4,900 citations issued by law enforcement to drivers who illegally passed school buses in the state, according to the New Jersey Administrative Offices of the Courts.
With the Senate having passed S-211, attention turns to the companion bill in the Assembly, A-3798, which is expected to be considered in the coming weeks.
The stop-arm camera measure is supported by multiple education and safety groups in the state, including the School Transportation Supervisors of New Jersey.
A recent incident may be helping build support among legislators. On Jan. 3, a 14-year-old girl in Upper Township, New Jersey, was seriously injured when she was struck by a car while crossing a highway to board her school bus, according to state police.
“Luckily, this young girl wasn’t killed in this accident,” Holzapfel said. “But we hear about this all the time from bus drivers. Even if they have their lights on, drivers still try to pass them. This foolish and dangerous behavior has to stop, and it won’t stop unless we can monitor it and enforce our laws.”