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Press Release

City of Watervliet Announces New School Bus Safety Program to Tackle Illegal Passing

February 19, 2024

Watervliet, NY

Watervliet City School District buses will be modernized with automated photo enforcement technology

Following an increase in reports of reckless driving behavior around school buses, the City of Watervliet today announced a new school bus stop-arm photo enforcement program that aims to reduce the number of illegal passings of motorists and protect students.

The safety program is poised to launch later this school year, following an extensive education and awareness campaign to remind motorists about school bus safety traffic laws.

“This is a no-brainer. If it provides increased safety for our kids, then it’s a must,” said Mayor Charles V. Patricelli, “I personally have witnessed cars passing through stopped buses with their red lights on. Many times, drivers are in such a hurry that they are not concentrating on the rules or the safety of others. I’m glad to partner with the school and hope we never give out one fine.”

“It’s our hope that by having our buses equipped with this technology, drivers will think twice before passing school buses when the red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended,” said Dr. Donald Stevens, Superintendent of Schools. “Not only is it illegal, but it is dangerous. We appreciate the City’s partnership in support of this initiative, which provides another level of safety for our students who ride the bus to and from school.”

The Watervliet City School District will equip its entire school bus fleet with stop-arm cameras that use AI-powered safety technology to detect the license plates of drivers who violate traffic laws. Every incident is reviewed by the primary police department before a violation notice is issued to the offender. The technology, installation, and maintenance are provided at no cost to the school district or taxpayers.

In addition, the school district will benefit from additional safety features, such as internal cameras to monitor dangerous activity onboard the bus.

“This program is a win-win for student safety,” said Karoon Monfared, CEO at BusPatrol. “We’re proud to partner with the City of Watervliet on this critical safety initiative, and we look forward to changing the driving culture around school buses. This program will hold irresponsible drivers accountable for jeopardizing our children’s safety and provide a safer ride to and from school for every student at Watervliet City School District.”

The new safety initiative follows the success of similar school bus safety programs in Albany County, Dutchess County, Rensselaer County, and Rockland County.

New York State law requires that motorists stop at least 20 feet away from a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing and stop-arm deployed. However, local law enforcement does not possess the personnel or resources to adequately enforce every violation of the state law. This safety program will leverage cutting-edge technology to hold violators accountable, change driver behavior, and protect young children getting on and off the bus.

Earlier this month, a motorist was recorded illegally passing a stopped school bus in Pittstown, narrowly missing a 7-year-old girl about to disembark the bus. According to the girl’s family, this is the second close call she’s experienced in recent years.

Each year, thousands of children are needlessly put at risk due to reckless and illegal driver behavior around school buses, which can have fatal and tragic consequences. According to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, school buses are passed over 43 million times per year in the United States.

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