North Country Sen. Ritchie wants cameras added to school buses to help catch, prosecute illegal passers
Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 11:26 am

State Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Heuvelton has joined her colleagues in calling for passage of a bill to allow school buses to install stop-arm cameras to detect and record vehicles illegally passing stopped school buses.

The bill, (S.518-B), cosponsored by Ritchie, would permit evidence taken from the cameras to be used in issuing tickets to violators.

“Whether they are driving distracted or simply ignoring the laws, we have a significant problem with reckless drivers failing to consider the safety of our children when they approach school buses with red lights flashing and warning signs extended,” Ritchie said in a prepared statement. “From the statewide study, to a survey I conducted right here in our region, the numbers are alarming. We must do more to protect our children and this bill will hopefully get drivers to think about their decisions behind the wheel, before they make them.”

“Last year, 365 bus drivers from 31 different local school districts across the region took part in a survey Ritchie created to document the problem. They reported that over the course of five days, there were 600 instances of drivers illegally passing a stopped school bus in St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Oswego counties,” a news release from her office said.

As part of that survey, “a majority” of the bus drivers said they “supported the installation of cameras to buses to capture images of vehicles illegally passing them.” They also supported “increased penalties for illegal passers and increased fines for those who illegally passed a bus while using a cell phone or other electronic device,” her office said.