On Jan. 3, Bethlehem Central School District's transportation department in New York started installing stop-arm cameras on its school buses.
Passing a school bus with its stop arm extended is illegal in every U.S. state. An estimated 50,000 cars illegally pass stopped school buses in New York state every day and these stop-arm violations endanger the lives of students. Bethlehem Central School district wants to combat dangerous driving around its school buses with the installation of stop-arm cameras, a new safety initiative led by Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy in a partnership between the county and BusPatrol.
“This is an exciting day as we welcome Bethlehem Central Schools into Albany County’s School Bus Safety Program. They are one of the largest school districts in the Capital Region and the second to partner with us on this initiative. I want to thank them for putting the safety of their students first,” said Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy. “One child lost to reckless driving is too many, and our school bus cameras hold drivers accountable in order to prevent tragedies down the road. I hope that today’s announcement will encourage more school districts to opt into our program so every student across Albany County has this added protection.”
BusPatrol’s stop-arm cameras and sensors will be installed on the outside of the district’s buses. If a driver violates the required stop by passing around a bus, the artificial intelligence-equipped cameras automatically will record license plate details and a video clip of the violation, which will be sent to law enforcement for evaluation. Tickets will be issued to a vehicle’s registered owner unless the automobile is proven stolen during the time of the offense. The owner can request a transfer of liability if someone other than the owner was driving at the time.
Violators will learn about the potential dangers of their actions in addition to a fine. The BusPatrol program offers a toll-free number that offenders can call; a representative will review the video evidence with them and help to educate individuals on the dangers of illegal passing.
“Student transportation safety is a top priority,” said Karim Johnson, Bethlehem Central’s student transportation director. “Stop-arm cameras have proven to make a dramatic difference in buses being passed, this adds another level of safety for our students going to and from school. I’m grateful to County Executive Dan McCoy and BusPatrol for making this extra precaution a reality.”
Data from other safety programs demonstrates that 94% of first-time offenders do not receive a second ticket, and that 95% of drivers do not contest their ticket after seeing video evidence of their violation, according to a news release.
The stop-arm cameras will be installed at no cost to the district or the county. A percentage of proceeds from ticket revenue will go to BusPatrol America LLC in exchange for the service.