Somers Central School District captures nearly 300 motorists illegally passing stopped school buses

BusPatrol and the Somers Central School District today released new data showing nearly 300 motorists that illegally passed a stopped school buses over a two-month period. 

BusPatrol and the school district also released several videos of close encounters, providing the public a firsthand look into the dangerous driving behavior that routinely endangers young children when getting on and off a school bus. The footage was captured using cameras that were installed on stop-arms affixed to 59 school buses.

The school district obtained the data through a pilot program with BusPatrol, the leading stop-arm enforcement technology provider in North America. 

Jean Souliere, CEO and Founder of BusPatrol, said: “These illegal passings are extremely dangerous and demonstrate the need for sensible photo enforcement on our roads. Westchester should follow the lead of other counties and pass a school bus safety program that gives schools and law enforcement the tools they need to keep our kids safe.”

“The BusPatrol program highlights a county-wide problem involving motorists running the red lights and stop arms on school buses,” said Somers schools Assistant Director of Transportation, Gerard Esposito. “In Somers we feel fortunate to have a program in place that deters motorists from putting our children in danger.”    

From August through October, school buses equipped with AI-powered stop-arm cameras recorded a total of 280 illegal passings. This equates to 4.7 stop-arm violations per bus per day and 7.4 violations per weekday, or 0.1 violations per bus per weekday. The pilot data represents the clearest example to date that this type of illegally activity on the roads goes unreported and unenforced on a regular basis. 

Westchester is the only county in the New York City region that has not authorized a school bus safety program. As a result, school districts and police departments across the county are denied the opportunity to utilize advanced photo enforcement technology to catch lawbreakers and issue citations to motorists who illegally pass a stopped school bus.

Meanwhile, neighboring suburban counties including Rockland, Dutchess, Putnam, as well as Suffolk County and several municipalities in Nassau County on Long Island, have all approved bus safety programs.

According to the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, stopped school buses are passed illegally an estimated 50,000 times per school day.

In New York State, it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus when the large red visual sign is in operation. Flashing lights mean the bus is picking up or discharging students. All motorists are required to stop whether approaching a stopped school bus from the front or overtaking it from the rear. This applies whenever their visual signal is in operation on any public highway, street, or private road.

Effective August 19, 2019, the new school bus camera law in New York authorizes school districts and municipalities to use stop-arm cameras on school buses to hold vehicle owners responsible for their cars passing a stopped school bus.  This program allows a school district to equip school buses with stop-arm cameras designed to capture images of vehicles illegally passing stopped buses. The images are then transmitted to the municipality and used to identify the owners of vehicles and to send notices of liability to the owners. Tickets given by these cameras can result in fines of $250 for a first violation up to $300 for each violation in an 18-month period. The owners may then pay a fine or contest their liability.

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