Did you miss the New York School Bus Safety Summit? Don’t worry! Read our recap below to learn the key highlights and essential takeaways from the Summit.
On May 11, BusPatrol and the New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) hosted our first-ever New York School Bus Safety Summit in Great River, on Long Island.
The event brought together legislators, government officials, transportation organizations, parent/teacher associations, school districts, and law enforcement and aimed to bring awareness to the importance of school bus safety and the solutions technology and community engagement have to offer.
With Jason Elan, Head of External Affairs, as emcee for the Summit, we kicked things off with opening remarks. Steve Randazzo, Executive Vice President, Government Relations, and Karoon Monfared, CEO and President, welcomed the crowd and provided personal insights into their own safety mission “why.” They were followed by Nick Vallone from the New York School Bus Contractor Association and Debora Thivierge of the Suffolk County School Bus Safety Committee and ELIJA Farms.
“We’ve seen over 30 percent in decline in year-over-year school bus stop arm violations since the start of the Suffolk County school bus safety program. That means drivers are stopping for school buses and creating safer conditions for our kids.” -Karoon Monfared, President and CEO, BusPatrol
Panel #1: How can we leverage data to improve school bus safety and make roads safer?
Our first panel focused on how we can leverage data to improve school bus safety and make roads safer, and was composed of BusPatrol’s Ezra Okon, Executive Vice President, Operations, Suffolk County Police Department Commissioner Harrison, Suffolk County Sherrif Toulon, and Liz Gilleo from the Hendrick Hudson School District. Panelists talked about how data represents insights, and how insights inform interventions. Whether it’s fleet health or violation data, these insights allow for real-time interventions that contribute to improving school bus safety.
Here’s what some of our panelists had to say:
“We’re a small district; we only have 2,300 students, and for our district to have so many illegal passes in such a short amount of time was very alarming.” -Liz Gilleo, Hendrick Hudson School District
“Students imitate the behavior they see. So, if they have been in vehicles at 7 to 8 year olds, watching people use phones while driving, they are going to copy that behavior. We are leveraging technology – social media sites can detect when you are driving and stop you from using those sites – and raising awareness. But we have to make sure that there is accountability for people driving distracted.” -Suffolk County Sherriff Toulon
“We can’t be at every single school bus stop, but having these cameras on school buses and seeing firsthand how stop arm violations take place is alarming. No one here can say with confidence that their child will get on and off the school bus safety, and if we can’t hold drivers accountable, it’s not taken seriously.” -Suffolk Police Commissioner Harrison
“We want to ensure drivers are getting consistency, and ensure the fairness, consistency, and integrity of the program. We do that by educating bus operators.” -Ezra Okon, EVP, Operations, BusPatrol
Also in attendance was State Senator Tim Kennedy, Chairman of the New York State Senate Transportation Committee, who delivered the keynote address.
“Stop arm violation cameras were such a novel concept, and it was a pleasure for me to champion this cause. Every day, 50,000 motorists make the decision to pass a school bus with its red lights flashing and stop arm deployed. Now, we are safer, motorists are held accountable, but it’s just a start.” – State Senator Tim Kennedy, Chairman of the New York State Senate Transportation Committee
Panel #2: How is the community taking a holistic approach to school bus safety?
Our second panel focused on a holistic approach to school bus safety, and was comprised of BusPatrol’s SVP of Procurement and Product Management, James Buchanan, Rich Gallagher from the Suffolk County School Bus Safety Committee, and Dr. Patrick Harrigan of Half Hollow Hills Central District.
“To me, the whole basis of this program is behavioral change, getting kids learning at a young, getting the educational information in front of drivers, and maybe learning from a citation. Behavioral change can make the trip to and from school safer for kids. In my mind, that is what I work towards every day: child safety.” -Rich Gallagher, Suffolk County School Bus Safety Committee
Closing remarks were delivered by the NYAPT’s Dave Christopher. Karoon also provided some closing remarks, thanked sponsors, panelists, and attendees for their time and dedication to the important mission of student safety.
“Our mission is simple; we are here to support our members in ensuring safety. BusPatrol is a key part of this, bringing school bus safety enforcement technology to our communities.” -Dave Christopher, NYAPT
If you are interested in learning more about BusPatrol and upcoming events, click here.