Congressman Anthony Brindisi is the co-sponsor of a new bill that would prevent the illegal passing of buses. (Photo: Maggie Gilroy / Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin)
U.S. Congressman Anthony Brindisi is the co-sponsor of a bipartisan bill that would review state laws to help prevent the illegal passing of school buses.
Brindisi announced his efforts to pass the Stop for School Buses Act in a press conference at the Chenango Valley Central School District Bus Garage on Towpath Road in the Town of Binghamton on Monday afternoon.
“Every driver on the road has the responsibility to follow the law and exercise caution when a school bus is near,” Brindisi said. “Our children’s lives depend on it and I believe this legislation is a step in the right direction.”
Stop for School Buses Act
Under the Stop for School Buses Act, the State Department of Transportation would:
- Compile illegal passing laws in all states, including levels of enforcement and penalties.
- Review existing public safety measures and programs to prevent the illegal passing of school buses.
- Issue recommendations on the best practices for preventing illegal passing.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of various technologies that may help prevent illegal passing incidents.
- Review driver education materials in all states to determine whether more information about illegal passing should be provided to drivers.
- Research connections between illegal passing of school buses and other safety issues.
- Create and execute a public safety messaging campaign to promote safe driving when children are present and highlight the dangers of illegal passing.
Norwich school bus video goes viral
The announcement comes days after a Facebook post from the Norwich Central School District containing security footage from one of the school’s buses went viral. The video captures Samantha Call, who has been a bus driver for the district for six years, as she grabs a student’s hood right as a speeding car passes by the bus.
Watch the video here:
NCSD bus driver Samantha Call stopped a student from exiting her stopped school bus just before a car sped by on April 26, 2019.
Maggie Gilroy / Staff video, Maggie Gilroy / Staff video
The car fails to stop as the bus pulls over, and instead speeds past the door and narrowly misses the student stepping off the bus.
“This is exactly why you should NEVER pass a school bus when the stop arm is out and the red lights are flashing,” the Facebook post reads.
NCSD bus driver Samantha Call stopped a student from exiting her stopped school bus just before a car sped by on April 26. (Photo: Provided)
According to the post, the incident happened at 10:44 a.m. April 26 on State Route 12.
Brindisi met with Call to commend her and her fellow drivers on Monday.
“I really find it unbelievable and even sad that we have to have this conversation and legislation on something that should be common sense,” said Chenango Valley Superintendent David Gill in the press conference announcing the bill Monday afternoon.
What’s next in Congress?
Brindisi said the bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives and has several sponsors on both sides of the aisle. The next step is a getting a Senate sponsor, and the National School Transportation Association is working with several Senate offices to get a senator, or multiple senators, on board.
Brindisi hopes the bill will be passed this year.
“With all the increased technology and distracted driving happening, the problem has worsened where we’re seeing many more incidents,” Brindisi said.
What’s happening in New York
Key lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly have recently made efforts to catch and ticket drivers illegally passing a school bus.
Sen. Tim Kennedy, a Buffalo Democrat who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, recently confirmed a deal on a bill that would allow school districts and municipalities to install cameras on their buses, with the goal of cracking down on drivers who pass stopped buses.
The vote may come as soon as this week.
A Chenango Forks student narrowly escaped being hit by a speeding vehicle while exiting a school bus, officials said Thursday.
Chenango Forks Central Schools
The Assembly has already passed a similar bill and Gov. Andrew Cuomo pledged support for it, too.
Kennedy said the bill would allow municipalities to approve a local law allowing school-bus cameras within their limits.
From there, school boards would have to approve a resolution and contract with a company to install them on the stop arm of buses, or somewhere else on the vehicles that can easily capture license plates.
Those who illegally pass a school bus would be captured on camera and subject to a $250 fine for a first offense, $275 for a second and $300 for each one after, Kennedy said.
More: School bus cameras to catch passing drivers could be coming soon to New York
Municipalities would be required to erect signs notifying drivers that school-bus cameras are in effect. They would also be required to report annually to the state and local law-enforcement on how many tickets they issue.
The program would expire in five years, at which point state lawmakers would decide whether to continue it.
At least 16 states have already allowed school-bus cameras, including Pennsylvania and Connecticut, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Last year, 850 drivers were ticketed for an illegal bus passing on a single day in April as part of Operation Safe Stop, a day when police officers were instructed to be on high alert for such infractions.
Reporter Jon Campbell also contributed to this report.
Follow Maggie Gilroy on Twitter @MaggieGilroy. Support our journalism and become a digital subscriber today. Click here for our special offers.
More: Norwich City School District bus driver saves student from passing car
More: BUS SCARE: Man ticketed for passing bus
More: BUS SCARE: Driver who passed bus ID’d, police say
Read or Share this story: https://www.pressconnects.com/story/news/local/2019/05/14/brindisi-school-bus-safety-norwich-driver/1190744001/