What to Know
- Disturbing footage shows drivers blowing past school buses, potentially endangering children, on a regular basis
- The video comes from Long Island's Bay Shore school system, which says it's at the epicenter of a student safety crisis
- The district has launched a "gotcha" camera program to fight back and ensure its students are kept safe
School officials in one Long Island district plagued by drivers blowing past buses despite flashing stop signs, potentially endangering children, implemented a camera pilot program to assess the extent of the problem.
They were shocked by the results. Over a three-month period, cameras installed on two of Bay Shore Schools' buses recorded a total of 389 violations -- an average of 6.6 violations per day.
"In one day, we had four passes on the right hand side, the side where the children actually get on and off the bus," said Bay Shore Schools Superintendent Joseph Bond. "Somebody's gonna get hurt here."
No children have been hit in the district because of one of the school bus drive-bys, but there are a slew of anecdotal "near misses."
The pilot program was implemented with American Traffic Solutions, an Arizona-based company that installed the cameras. Had all of the buses in the district's fleet been outfitted with cameras, school officials said the program might have revealed 100 violations on a daily basis.
"To have 100 passes a day in a school district of this size -- only 8.8 square miles -- is really atrocious, and really bad," said Richard Gallagher, the school district's director of transportation.
It's illegal in New York state to pass a stopped school bus when the stop arm pops out with the flashing sign, but Bond said current law says a law enforcement officer has to witness the violation in order to write a citation.
Bond said he's so bothered by the pilot program findings that he plans to share the data with lawmakers in a push to get a bill passed that would allow citations to be written based on video evidence. Those citations would also carry a minimum $250 fine for first-time offenders.
Bay Shore parents are also up in arms over drivers ignoring bus arm stop signs. They said they'd welcome anything that would make it safer for their children to get on and off school buses.
"Besides letters and notifications, if there was a fee ... people would pay a little closer attention," parent Laurie Elliott said.
According to state data, an estimated 50,000 motor vehicles illegally pass New York school buses daily.