Rensselaer County today announced a new school bus safety program in partnership with BusPatrol that will enable school buses to utilize automated enforcement solutions to enhance student safety. As part of the county program, school districts that participate will be able to equip their entire school bus fleet with BusPatrol stop-arm photo enforcement technology to capture the license plates of motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses that put children in danger as they get on and off the bus.
“This new initiative will help ensure our most precious passengers, our kids, are safe and secure as they are transported to and from school or other events. The fact this is being done at zero cost to taxpayers is an added benefit and will help with the implementation of the program across the county and in our region,” said County Executive Steve McLaughlin.
“I was enthusiastic about sponsoring this program because I truly believe this program will protect our children. This program should serve as a deterrent and reminder that if someone carelessly decides to place children in harm’s way, their dangerous action will be caught on camera. My colleagues and I are thrilled that so many school districts chose to participate in the BusPatrol program,” said Chairwoman of the Legislature Kelly Hoffman.
So far, eight school districts have started installations – Hoosic Valley Central, Hoosic Falls Central, Schodack Central, Berlin Area, Averill Park Central, Brunswick City, East Greenbush Central, and Wyantskill Union Free. The school bus fleets at each district, totaling more than 400 buses, will be outfitted with modern safety technology.
All technology and maintenance are provided to the districts at zero cost through BusPatrol’s violator-funded program.
“Student safety is the top priority of our district,” said East Greenbush Central School District Superintendent Jeff Simons. “Each year we receive several reports from our bus drivers regarding cars passing our school buses when the stop-arm is engaged. We hope that the implementation of this new technology, at no cost to our taxpayers, will deter such actions on the part of drivers and keep our students safe. We are grateful to Rensselaer County, BusPatrol, and all of the law enforcement jurisdictions within our school district for their partnership efforts in bringing this program to full fruition.”
The announcement comes on the heels of the recent successful launch of the BusPatrol program in Albany County at the start of this school year. Since September, school districts across the Capital Region have been leveraging automated enforcement technology to combat reckless driver behavior around school buses.
According to reports, there are an estimated 50,000 stop-arm violations each school day in New York State. The BusPatrol program is proven to significantly curb school bus illegal passings, and data shows that 98% of first-time violators do not receive a second ticket.
East Greenbush Central, Wyantskill Central, and Averill Park Central school districts will be the first to launch the program at the start of April 2023. The remaining five district programs are expected to launch before the end of this school year. The program’s go-live will be preceded by a 30-day education and awareness campaign including road signage, community announcements, and warning letters. Starting March 6th, warning letters will be issued to drivers who fail to stop for school buses with no monetary penalty.
It is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing. According to New York State DMV, traffic approaching from either direction must stop before reaching the bus:
- On a two-lane road.
- On multi-lane highways.
- On divided highways.
A first-time stop-arm violation carries a fine of $250. Subsequence violations within an 18-month period are subject to a $25 increase, up to a maximum of $300.
BusPatrol has also launched successful stop-arm programs with Dutchess County, Suffolk County, the Town of Hempstead, and the City of Niagara Falls, and is expected to announce new partnerships with the Town of North Hempstead, Monroe County, and the City of Rensselaer in the coming days.